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 Demand
Among 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.