No apologies for SBS On Demand, says Ebeid.

SBS has nearly 3 million registered users on its digital platforms, with SBS On Demand being one of its recent success stories.

Spearheaded by the hit series The Handmaid’s Tale, SBS On Demand has been serving over 20 million video views per month.

But it has also triggered criticism from commercial rivals, including Nine which wanted the series for Stan.

Yesterday at SBS annual Upfronts, a relaxed managing director Michael Ebeid had a message for those questioning its Charter obligations.

“This success has resulted in recent criticism of SBS, suggesting that we’re disregarding our Charter obligations – and distorting the wider market,” he said.

“Our Charter states that our principal function is multilingual and multicultural programming, but it’s not our only function. Our acquisition of some general interest, English-language programs with broader appeal is a deliberate strategy to draw in new audiences – so that we can cross-promote SBS’s Charter inspired content – to reach as many Australians as possible.

“SBS is being an innovative challenger – doing smarter content deals, deploying smarter digital strategies and adapting to remain relevant. We’re proud of our growth and – certainly not apologetic for our successful strategies – and I guess the criticism is a credit to the teams at SBS who work so hard to deliver content that packs a punch on minimal budgets.”

But Ebeid wasn’t done with commercial networks there, citing an Essential NewsPoll that put it ahead of competition on trust.

“Besides SBS being the most distinctive media network – our news services are also the most trusted out of the Seven, Nine and TEN Networks, according to the latest Essential NewsPoll – in fact we saw an increase in trust levels over the last year compared to a decline across the commercial networks,” he said.

“In 2018, SBS’s distinctive programming will continue to reflect, explore and celebrate the diversity of Australia like no other media organisation does, with the broader aim of deepening the understanding of multiculturalism and the value of this diversity to our nation.”


  1. Mr Ebeid says, “Our Charter states that our principal function is multilingual and multicultural programming”.

    Would be nice if SBS actually did more of that, particularly in prime time. Only so many Nordic crime dramas or train travelogues we can look at. And Viceland and SBS Food are very US-centric which is not what SBS was made for.

    NITV at least seems to fulfil its intended purpose.

  2. SBS have certainly developed a revenue earning option for its surplus and latest release content but the SBS On Demand’s long term strategy could attract some examination as the site presentation and its obligation for the viewer to sign up with log on details and a password smacks of a commercial enterprise something which ABC’s iView has not done. If the SBS see a future in streaming as a revenue earner from advertising some upgrade to HD or 4K will be essential, the Handmaids Tale, for example, would have benefited from 4K if Stan acquired it, a service the government funded SBS realistically does not look likely to provide for the foreseeable future.

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