Yesterday at its upfronts in Sydney, SBS revealed that it would be allowing consumers to (mostly) opt out of ads that feature wagering, alcohol and/or junk food on its on-demand service. Here the industry reacts to that as well as the broadcasters announcements around the world cup and its net zero initiative.
Melissa Fein, CEO, Initiative – “This could start a trend across other ad-funded streaming services”
A strong theatrical opening with a football being hurled at MD – James Taylor, his solid hands signified the leader of SBS is certainly not dropping the ball on any front and have secured the rights for the 2026 Football World Cup. An incredible announcement considering how competitive the pitch was post woman’s World Cup.
It’s impressive to see SBS lead the way in sustainability, they’re already the clear market leader in DEI and encouraging to see NITV commercial and viewer support growing extensively year-on-year with Initiative proudly helping NRMA Insurance to become the first partner to officially execute the Beyond 3% program.
It was also refreshing to see a genuine market-first in their CX strategy – focusing on the customized ad selection service, an opportunity for viewers to de-select what Ad categories they don’t want to see. This could start a trend across other ad-funded streaming services given the pressure from potential incoming government legislation in certain categories.
Overall, the upfront was sophisticated but not arrogant, with some genuinely new-news that continued to build on what I believe to be the most distinctive and differentiated media-partner proposition in market.
Jacquie Alley, Chief Operating Officer at The Media Store – “What really shone through was that they are Australia’s purpose-driven public broadcaster”.
Beyond the big reveals, such as the rights to the 2026 FIFA World Cup, Season 2 of their most successful original show, Alone Australia (LEAD IMAGE), NITV launching into HD and the return of The Handmaid’s Tale, what really shone through was that they are Australia’s purpose-driven public broadcaster.
Becoming our country’s first broadcaster to reach Net Zero in their scope 1 and 2 emissions is no small thing. Tackling important issues continues to be their mainstay, spotlighting the public healthcare system and the relationship between our police force and Aboriginal people through powerful documentaries, delivering the hard-hitting content Australians seek. As is offering content in over 60 languages within SBS on Demand, to meet the needs of over 5.6 million Aussies who speak a language other than English.
And then there were the advertising announcements. From dynamic ad insertions on digital livestreams across SBS Audio, to Cultural Connect training and creative sprints, to the SBS on Demand Solus Impact spot, whereby only one sponsored ad will appear within the content. Significant consideration has been given to the consumer’s consumption preferences while advertiser and agencies benefit from lower competition.
As the broadcaster whose mandate is to Demand Different, their 2024 announcements were authentically on brand.
Conor Riordan, Client Director, Kaimera – “a likely welcomed innovation for users and advertisers-alike”
SBS invited the Australian media buying community to “demand different” from them in 2024 at their upfronts. In a punchy presentation, SBS focused on the things which make their offering so appealing to Australian advertisers, including their audience-first approach to content, UX and ad experience.
While factually not a niche offering, reaching 13.9M unique Australians each month, SBS’ content reaches into the niche interests of Australians. As the makeup of Australia’s population becomes more and more diverse, SBS is well positioned to continue attracting audiences across those interests. Planners not thinking about these high-value audience niches, often incremental to their standard buys, are missing a trick.
From a content perspective, we see new and recurring programming across their key content pillars – food, travel, sport and drama. Highlights include the return of Alone for season two, the final season of The Handmaid’s Tale, and retention of the FIFA World Cup for 2026 and the Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes until 2030. After the result in our most recent referendum, I hope to see advertisers putting their money where their mouths are in supporting the NITV platform, which continues to see YoY audience growth.
Across UX, improvements to content recommendations on the on-demand platform were spruiked along with a continued commitment to low ad-loads across video content.
And in a very interesting move, SBS will give more control to their viewers in relation to ad-experience, allowing users of their platforms to opt out of wagering, alcohol and QSR advertising, a likely welcomed innovation for users and advertisers-alike. As an advertiser, I’m not about to opt-out but I expect families with young kids at home will be jumping at the chance to avoid all three categories.
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