“We’re Not Intellectually Wanky”: SBS Supremo Michael Ebeid

Michael Ebeid - SBS Managing Director
SHARE
THIS



B&T grabbed 10 minutes with the ever-charming SBS CEO Michael Ebeid, where Ninja Warrior, media reforms and love were all discussed. Okay, maybe not that last one. Here’s the chat condensed to easily digested nuggets…

SBS is doing so many fantastic shows at the moment, it must be frustrating everyone’s watching Ninja Warrior over at Nine?

Look it is frustrating when you see how much work goes into them. A lot of our (SBS’s) stories are about human interaction, so we’d naturally love more Australians to see them; particularly the documentaries we’re doing about helping us understand each other better.

Is that being a bit intellectually wanky, though? In reality, the average Aussie wants MasterChef and Ninja Warrior?

You could say that, but we’re not about being intellectually wanky because it’s about humans and human connections, be they news, documentaries or drama, it’s about the human connection and understanding each other better. For us it’s all about… our audience wouldn’t see it as intellectually wanky at all… we want to connect with people in Australia who have an inquisitive mind, who want to understand the world, to explore the word, its cultures, its people; they’re the sort of audiences that come to us. Our World News is in a league of its own. We don’t just cover the news, the headlines, we talk about why did that bomb go off? What does that mean to our Australian audiences? What does it mean for the communities in this country that come from those countries, and we go into that depth, that analysis, and that really adds value to people’s lives.

Where do you see SBS sitting in the current media zeitgeist? Your detractors would say you should merge with the ABC, the free-to-airs don’t want you taking any more of their ad dollars; plus, we’ve got new media reforms on the way… It’s confusing times?

Right now I’d say I am very glad that I am the CEO of a niche network that is very targeted on what it does and what it delivers; as opposed to running a media organisation that is very general entertainment because they’re all the same at the moment, they’re all doing very similar stuff and SBS is truly doing unique content that no one else is doing…

But Seven, Nine and Ten have to chase the ratings, the ad dollars…

Yes, but that’s the very reason we’ve been very successful this year, we’ve seen an increase in our numbers in both audience reach and share because we offer something different to what everybody else is doing. And one thing we always try and do at SBS is to try and make sure our content is always truly unique, we don’t want content that everybody else has got, and so to be able to offer Australians an alternative is what’s really helping us.

You were a strong candidate for the ABC job [before Michelle Guthrie was appointed in December 2015]…

No, there was a lot of media speculation about that, and the fact is I wasn’t actually a candidate at all.

Do you think that SBS probably doesn’t get the recognition it deserves?

I’ve never judged our success by our overall market share. I judge our success on a couple of other things. One is our reach, because we’re reaching 14 million Australians every month. People don’t necessarily come and watch us night, after night, after night, hour, after hour, as they might do with Seven or Nine. They come to us for certain programs and that means we’re engaging with more Australians than we ever have been in our history. Go back five years and our reach was eleven million and it’s now 14 million, so that’s three million more Australians watch SBS every month than they did a few years ago. The other thing that’s been amazing is SBS On Demand. Because our shows aren’t live, reality TV, competition based, our shows you can watch On Demand when it suits you and not when our schedulers tell you. Two million Australians are registered users of SBS On Demand, we’re delivering 20 million video views every month, and that’s a huge figure. On our anecdotal research, to compare that to our TV reach of about seven or eight per cent, with On Demand we’re getting about 20 per cent or more of all cathch-up viewing in Australia. Take away ABC Kids, because we don’t have any kids’ content, then it’s more like 30 per cent.

Advertising on SBS? The government wants you to be more self-funded, Labor doesn’t, while the free-to-airs would prefer you had no advertising at all. Your stance on that?

Let me clarify that. Firstly, it was never SBS asking for more ad time, it was the government that wanted to give us more ad time because they wanted to reduce our funding. Look, our audiences accept that we have five minutes of ads every hour because they know that the money goes back into production, it goes back into SBS and that means we can do more things. The government then decided to withdraw that legislation, that was their decision, and we’re quite happy working with the five minutes of ads an hour. This year we’ll generate over $100 million of our own commercial revenue and that money enables us to do a lot more Australian commissions and we want to tell more Australian stories and our ambition is to try and increase our Australian content from where it is today, but we need more funding to do that.

The media story of 2017 has been the shenanigans over at Seven with Worner and Harrison etc. Your views on that? Has that proven fortuitous for SBS in any way?

That’s something I’m not going to comment on, ha, ha, ha!

 

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Bauer’s Cosmo Named Official Mardi Gras Media Partner
  • Marketing
  • Media

Bauer’s Cosmo Named Official Mardi Gras Media Partner

Bauer Media has announced Cosmopolitan magazine as an official media partner of the 2018 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. COSMO’s Mardi Gras sponsorship will deliver a month-long celebration of activities in the Parade’s 40th anniversary year. In addition to the event sponsorship, COSMO is producing its second Pride Issue for March, on sale 5th […]

A Guide To Understanding Your Digital Marketer
  • Opinion

A Guide To Understanding Your Digital Marketer

In this guest column, Logie-nominated journalist, Leisa Goddard (main photo), who is also the managing director of media, PR and digital agency, Adoni Media, offers her personal guide to making your way through digital marketing buzzwords and gobbledygook… Do you feel as though your digital marketer speaks to you in a language you don’t understand? In today’s highly-competitive world […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD
  • Advertising

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD

Video advertising platform SpotX has announced it has appointed Gavin Buxton as managing director of Asia to lead the company’s expansion in the region. Buxton has over 17 years’ global experience in the digital advertising space, having worked in leadership roles at tech and publishing companies, including Microsoft, Turner Broadcasting, and LinkedIn, with the last […]

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands

B&T Awards 2017 finalist Big Mobile has unveiled a fresh look to reflect its new ad tech credentials. The company successfully pivoted its business from ad network to mobile ad tech vendor when it announced a joint venture (JV) with Widespace in October last year. As a result of the business changes, Big Mobile wanted […]

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager
  • Advertising

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager

Independent ad agency March One has appointed a fresh face to the team, with Melanie Tozer to reinforce its mission to put humans first as a senior account manager. Tozer (pictured above), an up-and-coming talent from New Zealand, will align her extensive experience in FMCG marketing with March One, having worked on accounts for Bunnings […]

What To Expect From The App Economy In 2018
  • Opinion
  • Technology

What To Expect From The App Economy In 2018

Here's an insightful, authoritative synopsis of the app economy. So, you're right, it wasn't written by a B&T journo.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Farm Foods Rebrands To Target Modern Aussie Families Via Tiny Hunter
  • Marketing

Farm Foods Rebrands To Target Modern Aussie Families Via Tiny Hunter

Seasoned meat supplier Farm Foods Butchers has rebranded its selection of sausages, burgers, meatballs and ready-to-cook meat products to appeal to the modern Aussie family. The 100 per cent family-owned and operated business based in Breakwater, Victoria worked with Sydney-based branding and packaging design company Tiny Hunter. Together, they created a brand which connects with […]

Animal Logic Shows Off New Website In Collaboration With Protein One
  • Marketing
  • Media

Animal Logic Shows Off New Website In Collaboration With Protein One

Aussie visual FX and feature animation studio Animal Logic has unveiled its new web experience – a reimagined website – in collaboration with Sydney digital agency Protein One. Animal Logic felt it was important to engage a local digital agency to represent its brand online. The company’s online personality was one that required a team […]

Raunchy Marathon Ad Causes Utter Confusion
  • Campaigns

Raunchy Marathon Ad Causes Utter Confusion

B&T likes to award the "dumbest ad of the day" with a 15-inch devon knob. And this would be a processed meats shoe-in.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Red Agency Wins Bio-Oil PR Account
  • Marketing

Red Agency Wins Bio-Oil PR Account

Red Agency staff set to challenge for the record for most people to squeeze into a lift after winning Bio-Oil business.