At its 2024 Upfront, SBS has revealed its content line-up, as well as a series of business announcements for the year ahead.
All new and returning shows
SBS has revealed its 2024 content line-up across drama, documentaries, food, sport, entertainment, news, and current affairs.
“At SBS our goal is to be a contemporary national broadcaster, one which not only reflects contemporary Australia, but which has digital, diversity, and sustainability at its heart,” said James Taylor, managing director of SBS.
“2023 has seen us take great leaps in our digital transformation across television and audio, be it with the success of Alone Australia or the transformation of SBS Radio to SBS Audio. Next year will be no different as we continue to adapt to the consumer expectation of personalisation and improved advertising experience.”
SBS director of television Kathryn Fink said: “At SBS, we tell stories no one else will, in a way that no one else can. We‘re a purpose-led organisation, and home to some of the biggest shows in the country. We’re reaching more Australians than ever across linear and SBS On Demand. Our success is underpinned by our truly distinctive offering. From smash hits like Alone Australia, Rogue Heroes and The Handmaid’s Tale, to our compelling slate of original content. In 2024, demand edge-of-your-seat entertainment you won’t see anywhere else on SBS.”
This year, Alone Australia became the most successful original show in SBS history. It averaged more than one million viewers each episode and outperformed some of the biggest TV franchises in Australia. Alone Australia Season 2 is coming exclusively to SBS in 2024. Another ten Australians will confront the merciless forces of nature, hunger, and isolation, but this time, in the South Island of New Zealand (Te Waipounamu, Aotearoa). Mountainous terrain, snow, freezing winds, and this time, the 10 can take in bows and arrows in their quest to survive for $250k. This time around, Alone Australia S1 winner Gina Chick will present an S2 companion podcast with SBS Audio.
The network also revealed details of two major SBS Original drama series set to premiere in 2024. From the producers of The Twelve, and Colin from Accounts comes Four Years – a romance about a married couple who are separated for four years and try to find their way back to each other. In the vein of Normal People, the series explores love, yearning and miscommunication and will shoot in India and Australia.
Swift Street is a fast, dynamic, and cinematic series from creator and director Tig Terera. Hollywood star Cliff Curtis (Avatar: The Way of Water) and Tanzyn Crawford (Tiny Beautiful Things) lead the cast as a dysfunctional father-daughter duo who become partners in crime.
In 2024, SBS will see the return of some of its biggest hits including the final season of The Handmaid’s Tale, and the second season of Rogue Heroes, which dominated the digital rankings with Alone Australia when it premiered in April. The network has also acquired major international series Paris Has Fallen, based on the Has Fallen action franchise, mystery thriller Sherlock & Daughter and historical thriller The Doll Factory, an adaptation of the bestselling novel.
In 2024, Melissa Leong, Costa Georgiadis and Samuel Johnson explore the challenges facing the Australian public health system in a new three-part series The Hospital: In the Deep End. Shaun Micallef will travel abroad with some of Australia’s leading comedians to explore their cultural roots in Shaun Micallef’s Origin Odyssey. Ray Martin plans his own funeral, uncovering how Australia is choosing to say goodbye to our dead in Ray Martin: The Last Goodbye.
The network welcomes the return of some of its biggest long-running series with another season of Who Do You Think You Are, revealing Pat Rafter, Wayne Blair and Miranda Otto are among the next line-up of iconic Australians.
Great Australian Walks has been renewed for a second season with Susie Youssef and Alone Australia winner Gina Chick joining Julia Zemiro as fellow explorers. Insomniac Dr Michael Mosley is back to help Australia’s worst sleepers using ground-breaking science in Australia’s Sleep Revolution with Dr. Michael Mosley and single documentaries will be celebrated with another season of the acclaimed single documentary strand, Australia Uncovered.
In 2024, SBS and SBS Food will see the return of Stanley Tucci’s critically acclaimed Emmy Award-winning food travel series, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy. SBS’s largest commissioned food series The Cook Up with Adam Liaw and Guillaume Brahimi’s bite-sized gastronomical accompaniment to the Tour de France, Plat du Tour also return. Brahimi will also transport audiences to The Atlantic Coast of France to discover history, culture and unforgettable food in his brand-new series Guillaume’s French Atlantic.
Executive Chef Dan Hong hits the streets of Hong Kong to uncover the city’s best-kept food secrets in The Streets Hong Kong and Silvia Colloca blends the cherished tastes of the past with the vibrant stories of Italians in Australia today in Silvia’s Tastes Like Home.
SBS will continue to broadcast the Tour de France Femmes after securing the exclusive broadcast rights until 2030. Other major cycling Tour de France and events include the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta a Espana, the Paris-Roubaix Femmes, the Women’s and Men’s Australian National Road Series as well as the Women’s and Men’s European Cycling Spring Classics.
From 5 December 2023, NITV will be launching in high definition, as it prepares to bring a line-up of new content to audiences over the year ahead. It includes NITV and Netflix premiering new animated children’s series, Eddie’s Lil’ Homies, inspired by the book series of the same name by former AFL star Eddie Betts.
Feature documentary Journey Home: David Gulpilil will follow the ceremonial path of Yolngu man and renowned actor, David Gulpilil, on his journey back to Country. Logie Award-winning children’s series Little J and Big Cuz returns for a fourth season, Going Places with Ernie Dingo returns for a sixth season, and series two of all-access observational documentary series, Our Law, will expand nationwide, following First Nations police officers as they tackle the justice system from within.
NITV will also continue to curate a collection of locally and globally acquired programs, including in 2024 premiering scripted anthology series, The Green Veil, exploring oppression in America.
NITV on free-to-air channel 34 will be available as an HD channel from 5 December, and SBS will launch channel 36 as NITV available in standard definition.
SBS to showcase its sustainability pathway
SBS is set to showcase the steps it is taking to carve a clear leadership position within the Australian media on sustainability and an ambitious pathway towards Net Zero on all its emissions at its 2024 Upfronts event at Sydney Town Hall on Tuesday.
The broadcaster is set to announce it has achieved Net Zero on its direct emissions (covering Scope 1 and 2), and it is the first Australian TV network to confirm it is using Sustainable Screens Australia’s albert Toolkit to measure and reduce production emissions.
James Taylor, SBS managing director, said: “According to Nielsen’s Sustainability Rankings, in 2022 SBS ranked number one among media and telco brands when it came to social and environmental good.”
“This week, we are going even further and using our Upfronts to talk to the market about how SBS is the first Australian broadcaster to have achieved Net Zero on its direct emissions for Scopes 1 and 2.”
In a major step towards decarbonising its direct operations, SBS switched to 100% renewable energy in FY23. This was achieved through the Federal Government’s Large Scale Renewable Energy Target scheme with the purchase of Large-Scale Generation Certificates, which stimulate the renewable energy market. The network is also transitioning its fleet to hybrid and electric vehicles. These changes mean SBS has achieved Net Zero for its direct operations.
SBS has also analysed its supply chain, working with content, technology, and marketing partners to map their decarbonisation plans. Scenario modelling has enabled SBS to project an ambitious target to reach Net Zero by 2045 across all three scopes including its supply chain. SBS will also now begin the process of applying for endorsement of this Net Zero target by the Science Based Targets Initiative, recognised as the global standard for Net Zero commitments backed by science.
Taylor said: “Now that we have tackled our direct emissions, our next focus is our supply chain. I am very pleased that we are setting an ambitious date of 2045 for Net Zero on all emissions, including Scope 3. This is a space where SBS can and should lead the industry.”
“We’ll do this in collaboration with our production partners and I am pleased that SBS has already begun carbon measurement on key TV franchises such as Insight, The Cook Up with Adam Liaw, and Going Places with Ernie Dingo.”
A founding member of Sustainable Screens Australia, SBS has consistently led the sector on sustainability in Australia and was among the first broadcasters (along with the ABC) to begin measuring carbon emissions for its operations and supply chain in 2020-2021. SBS is now in the third year of measuring emissions from this baseline.
Abigail Thomas, SBS head of sustainability, said: “As a responsible purpose-driven public broadcaster, sustainability is at the heart of our strategy. SBS is taking an ambitious but credible approach to decarbonising its operations and supply chain, helping to lead the Australian broadcasting industry to tackle this key global challenge.”
Adam Sadler, SBS director of media sales, said: “Our media agency partners have been talking to us about sustainability for a number of years and indeed Nielsen’s consumer metrics show Australians believe and expect SBS to be a leader in this area.
“Today we are showing the industry and public that perception matches the reality and that SBS is leading the way for public and commercial broadcasters to set an ambitious Net Zero target.”
More personalisation and ad category opt-outs for SBS On Demand
SBS has used its 2024 Upfronts to highlight its success in digital transformation across both its television and audio businesses, while announcing a number of key initiatives aimed at continuing to improve the audience experience.
Executives from its television and audio businesses spoke at the event, held at Sydney Town Hall, highlighting how 2023 has been a transformational year for SBS with the hybrid national broadcaster executing a new “Audience First” platform agnostic audience strategy.
SBS used the event to signpost milestones such as Alone Australia being named the “breakout hit of the year” after it became SBS’s most successful ever original commission with an average of 1.44 million viewers per episode – half of those coming from SBS On Demand.
SBS also confirmed the success of its rebrand from SBS Radio to SBS Audio with the broadcaster earlier this month going live with a new linear radio schedule which sees programs across 60+ languages move to a more platform agnostic model, where much of its audio content is then published online at 5pm each day. In the past 12 months, SBS was also named Podcaster of the Year at the Australian Podcast Awards.
“SBS is the contemporary national broadcaster, one which authentically reflects Australia and which has digital, belonging and sustainability at its heart,” said James Taylor, SBS managing director.
“2023 has seen us take great leaps in our digital transformation across television and audio, be it with the success of Alone Australia or the transformation of SBS Radio to SBS Audio. Next year will be no different as we continue to adapt to the consumer expectation of personalisation and world-class advertising experience.”
SBS On DemandAmong SBS’s announcements were a range of enhancements to its streaming platform, SBS On Demand.
Central to the offering, alongside the addition of new ad products and FAST channels – beginning with rolling programming from Vietnamese-Australian celebrity chef, Luke Nguyen – is an improved recommendation engine and the launch of SBS Rewind, which will show users a summary of their viewing in the year prior and recommend new programming based on these preferences.
SBS also announced its move towards responsible advertising with confirmation that the broadcaster will introduce a feature which allows SBS On Demand users to opt-out of receiving advertising in the categories of wagering, alcoholic beverages and quick service restaurants (QSR) from 2024.
SBS will launch the beta opt out functionality in Q1 2024, with users able to register their interest via the SBS Help Centre from today.
The move has been endorsed by Endeavour Drinks and Tabcorp.
“SBS already takes significant steps to ensure we are meeting the responsible advertising expectations audiences have of us,” said Taylor. “We have age restrictions on SBS On Demand and we remove certain ad categories from particular programming, especially shows that deal with difficult or sensitive topics, such as Addicted Australia.
“For certain categories, SBS will utilise the benefits that digital provides and put greater control into the audiences’ hands. Audiences have always had complete control over what they watch on SBS On Demand. Now they will benefit further by having greater control over the ads they see as well. The advertiser benefits by not paying to reach people who have no interest in their product. This is responsible advertising at its best.”
Jo Rose, chief marketing officer Endeavour Drinks Group: “As Australia’s leading liquor retailer and operator of hotels, Endeavour Group is committed to maintaining a culture of industry leadership in the responsible service, ranging, sale and marketing of alcohol.”
“We are pleased to be working alongside SBS on the introduction of the audience first opt-out feature for SBS On Demand viewers, to ensure greater control for viewers.”
Vanessa Sanford, general manager marketing and media Tabcorp: “Tabcorp is an industry leader for responsible advertising standards in the wagering industry, so we’re proud to be partnering with SBS in this audience-first approach. This is an innovative initiative that ensures advertising reaches a receptive audience.”
2024 will also see the launch of SBS Measure which, in partnership with Experian, verifies the path to purchase, delivering an even more compelling offering to brands.
“Now, with our partners at Experian and your data, we can measure the success of driving your target audience from SBS on Demand through to purchase. This proves the value of your investment with SBS. We’re excited for this one and believe it will make SBS a partner of choice for many brands,” said SBS media’s national technology manager, Lee Callagher.
In 2024, SBS will introduce audio descriptions for Australians who are blind or have low vision. The feature will be available on key platforms on which SBS On Demand is offered, with users able to select different audio tracks.
SBS Chill was a previously-audio only music station that viewers will now be able to experience with visualisation through the video streaming platform.
NITV to launch as high-definition channel
After a year that saw NITV launch a 12-market broadcast signal and celebrate a decade of being available free-to-air, Australia’s dedicated Indigenous broadcaster will be launching as a high-definition channel on 5 December 2023.
SBS’s director of Indigenous content, and proud Birri and Guugu Yimidhirr woman, Tanya Denning-Orman, announced the upcoming HD launch at the SBS 2024 Upfront in Sydney, where highlights of NITV’s distinctive First Nations storytelling for the year ahead were also revealed.
“I’m excited that we will be presenting to Australia a beautiful, bold and unapologetically Blak content slate over the year ahead – including our fast-paced community-loving sport – in high definition,” said Denning-Orman.
“It’s just the latest development for NITV as the channel continues to go from strength to strength, delivering more First Nations stories to more Australians, and continuously improving how we serve our growing audience, as well as our partners.
“It comes following what has been a major year – we marked a decade of being available to all Australians as a free-to-air channel and part of the SBS network; we introduced our 12-market broadcast signal; and we continued to elevate First Nations voices for a growing audience of Australians wanting to connect and understand more about 65,000 years of culture, history and knowledge in this country.”
Peter Noble, a proud Bandjin and Girramay man and NITV general manager, added that NITV has a line-up of content still to come.
“We continue to increase our investment in the Indigenous production sector and partnerships across the industry, and are proud to not only be delivering more of our sport, documentaries, drama, entertainment, and award-winning kids, news and current affairs programming to audiences in 2024, we’re also excited to have returning series with Our Law and Little J and Big Cuz. NITV is continuing to cement its place in the Australian media landscape and, following the success of First Inventors this year with Channel 10, we’re excited to partner with Netflix to bring AFL great Eddie Betts’ popular books to life through our new animated children’s series Eddie’s Lil’ Homies.”
The move to HD comes as NITV and SBS Media’s Beyond 3% initiative continues to drive investment in the channel and increase awareness of the benefits of greater investment in First Nations media.
Speaking at the SBS 2024 Upfront, Anna Dancey, a proud Yuwaalaraay woman and NITV national sales manager, shared details of the evolution of Beyond 3% to support brands either getting started, continuing, or growing their investment in First Nations media with new partnership tiers: Kinship, Ally, Supporter and Leader.
“2023 has been our biggest year ever,” said Dancey, “with the likes of Coles, Airbnb, Amazon and Palmolive all increasing their investment with NITV, with bespoke and unique creative work that champions First Nations perspectives and Blak excellence. This year we also saw NRMA go further and become the first Australian brand to commit 3% of its broadcast media spend to First Nations media over the next year.
“We look forward to seeing others follow their lead and our new partnership framework introduces tiers to give brands a clear pathway to go Beyond 3%. This initiative has demanded more of our industry and is helping shift the needle on advertising spend that makes a real difference. Combined with NITV’s growing and powerful content offering, Beyond 3% will continue to support the strength of the First Nations media sector and the vital role it plays in this country and help our commercial partners to see and understand the impact of their investment.”
According to the latest Census data, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples represent 3.8 per cent of the Australian population, but it’s estimated that less than 0.3 per cent of advertising in Australia invested in media is dedicated to reaching these audiences.
Beyond 3% was launched in early 2021 seeking to engage media agencies and marketers to begin to address this gap by learning more about the role and value of First Nations media in Australia today, doing more to contribute to inclusion in the sector, and re-thinking media spend by committing to increasing investment in Indigenous media platforms to at least a 3 per cent target.
PopDesi to rebrand to holistic South Asian audio destination
SBS Audio will continue its digital evolution in 2024 with the linguistically diverse audio network outlining a number of major announcements made at the SBS 2024 Upfront.
The network has confirmed that SBS PopDesi will rebrand to transform the channel into a more holistic offering catering to the more than 1.5 million Australians who speak a South Asian language.
“This new destination channel will be home to all of our South Asian language programs, including Bangla, Hindi, Nepali, Punjabi, Sinhala, and Urdu and will have a whole new digital presence and podcast aimed at speaking to new generations of audiences,” said David Hua, SBS director of audio and language content.
“In one place you will be able to get SBS language programs, news, current affairs, and also our wonderful entertainment and music offerings. We’re excited to consolidate our offerings for our South Asian audiences in this destination channel.”
SBS also confirmed that SBS Chill – an audio music station famous for its laid-back listening experience with chillout, downtempo, and ambient tunes from around the world – would become a video FAST channel on SBS On Demand.
“This move reflects changing consumer habits and the centrality of the smart TV in today’s homes. Already one third of SBS Chill’s consumption comes from televisions and the move to SBS On Demand will only grow it further,” said Hua.
“The SBS Chill experience on SBS On Demand includes beautiful, calming scenery that matches the mood of the music and the time of day, bringing some serenity to your living rooms. It will be Australia’s smoothest, calmest “FAST” channel.”
In early 2023 SBS Radio went live with a rebrand to SBS Audio that also saw it introduce one unified digital experience for the first time. Improvements included better showcasing of podcasts, individual station pages, and music search features.
Building on these digital changes, SBS confirmed that it had gone live with dynamic ad insertion on digital (livestreams) across all of the SBS Audio product suite.
“This move has major audience benefits with listeners now able to hear the ads most suited to them,” said Adam Sadler, SBS director of media sales. “There is more than $159 billion spent each year by multilingual Australians and SBS Audio is a unique gateway to the more than 5.6 million Australians who speak a language other than English.
“Through measurable digital audio and award winning podcasts you get a clear sense of the audience and the powerful incremental reach that can be achieved by having SBS Audio as part of a marketer’s media schedule.”
Insight to get its own podcast hosted by Kumi Taguchi
2024 will see SBS’s award-winning podcasting reach new audiences with the announcement that the multicultural and First Nations broadcaster will launch a new Insight podcast, with a twist on the television format.
This has been a momentous year for SBS podcasts with the broadcaster being named the 2022 Australian Podcast Publisher of the Year at the Australian Podcast Awards and launching a range of new and distinctive podcasts.
SBS Audio announced the Insight podcast at the SBS 2024 Upfront in Sydney and also used the event to unveil an agenda for more podcasts to meet the growing demand for diverse audio content in Australia. The broadcaster also confirmed it will now offer pre, mid, and post-roll advertising and sponsorship on its slate of audio content.
SBS director of audio and language content, David Hua, said the network was proud of its distinctive audio offering: “Our podcast network is unlike anything else in the Australian landscape, and we believe there will be strong audiences for the Insight podcast along with the rest of our slate.”
“This year we also were proud to launch podcasts like the bilingual series The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine, Bad English with Ivan Aristeguieta, Should You Really Eat That? by food writer Lee Tran Lam, and Signal award-winning series The Idiom.
“We’re incredibly proud of the work we have done expanding in the podcast space, particularly our inclusion of pitches received from the public for three years running which has allowed us to create rich and nuanced stories of culture and language that no other network can offer.”
SBS’s podcast offering reaches both English-speaking and multilingual audiences, including hard-to-reach listeners in more than 60 languages, with more than 5.6 million Australians using a language other than English at home.
In 2024, SBS Audio listeners can look forward to the new Insight podcast with Kumi Taguchi – diving deeper into the honest and bold conversations loved by audiences.
Call outs for podcast pitches are continuing to attract new talent and ideas to reach Australians from all backgrounds. Upcoming series Deadly Doctors interviews health professionals finding cures to deadly diseases; Everything We Need explores rural communities dealing with climate change; and Australia Fair looks at the dark history of the White Australia Policy.
A new season of Seen with Yumi Stynes is in production, as well as a new Auslan vodcast series with Deaf Australia, and Say Kimchi, a light exploration of the experiences of young Korean Australians.
SBS Audio generates 5.9 million monthly audio plays and is nominated for four Australian Podcast Awards this November including the 2023 Podcast Publisher of the Year. Last year, SBS Audio podcasts won seven Australian Podcast Awards, and two inaugural Signal Awards, and were nominated for two Radio Today Podcast Awards and recognised as a Webby Award honoree.
SBS retains exclusive rights to the FIFA World Cup 2026
SBS will remain the home of the FIFA World Cup with the national broadcaster confirming it has secured the exclusive rights to the FIFA World Cup 2026.
The deal will see SBS, SBS Viceland and SBS On Demand be the home of the world’s biggest sporting event which will be held in June and July of 2026 and feature 104 matches after FIFA confirmed it will expand the competition to have 48 different national teams compete in the FIFA World Cup 26.
“Football is in the DNA of SBS,” said James Taylor, managing director of SBS. “SBS has been the home of football on Australian television for almost 40 years and we could not be more thrilled to announce that we will broadcast the 2026 tournament from North America, which will have more teams, more matches and draw more eyeballs than ever before.”
The announcement comes following SBS’s successful broadcast of the FIFA World Cup 2022 from Qatar which captured the attention of most Australians.
Driven in part by a stellar run by Australia’s Socceroos in 2022 the SBS broadcast of the FIFA World CupTM saw the broadcaster’s formula of providing full matches along with “mini-match” recaps in 25-minute, 10-minute and 3-minute clips on SBS On Demand drive more than 80 million hours of consumption with around one-third of that coming from digital.
“We are so proud to be the spiritual home of football and this deal cements a remarkable 40 years of partnership between FIFA and SBS”, said Ken Shipp, SBS director of sport. “In 2026 we will once again bring the best of the World Game to life through our exclusive coverage. The tournament in North America will be the biggest FIFA World CupTM ever and SBS will broadcast all 104 matches live and free to all Australians.”