SBS Worldwatch audience may take time

"It's not a one size fits all," says SBS news boss as new channel begins the long haul of building an audience.

Launching a new multichannel will invariably take time to build an audience, even more so when the target audience is necessarily niche.

On its first day of broadcast, SBS WorldWatch drew a 0.0% share according to data OzTAM updated yesterday afternoon.

That puts it below NITV’s usual 0.2% share. But some context is worthwhile.

SBS sources have often noted much of NITV’s target audience is outside the 5 city metro markets. In the same way, much of ABC ME’s audience have gone to bed once primetime rolls out.

Similarly, WorldWatch has news bulletins which change languages around every thirty minutes, making it difficult to build momentum from show to show. As a News channel it’s invariably drop-in-drop-out viewing.

Mandi Wicks, SBS Director of News and Current Affairs, told TV Tonight, “The target for this channel is really all Australians who might speak particular languages and are interested in perspectives of news from various countries around the world. These bulletins will include 35 languages from 45 different countries.

“Sometimes there’s an older demographic that’s really wedded to the Italian service or the Greek service. However, the Mandarin-speaking community and Arabic-speaking community are quite young communities in Australia. So, for us, that will be the slightly younger demographic, 25 to 54.

“So it’s quite complex, it’s not a one size fits all, it depends on the language, the community, the demographic of that community.”

Channel share may never be high, but while its launch is still just days old, SBS says it is already seeing communities making enquiries to retune their TVs for WorldWatch.

7 Responses

  1. I recall Mandarin News on SBS being axed a few years ago for generating zero in the ratings. What were they thinking?!

    Real-world viewership would be difficult to gauge regardless as I’m guessing that there are bugger-all Chinese and Arabic households with rating boxes. But either way, I can’t see this catching on in an age where one doesn’t have to be tethered to their TVs at a specific time in order to access the news. And SBS On Demand’s confirmation e-mails take forever to process, and after repeated attempts, I’ve given up on it entirely.

    They should stick with their radio shows and screenings of overseas news. There is no sensible reason why a market our size should have expensive local productions of foreign language news paid for by taxpayers.

    1. I would think that the Chinese/Arabic locally made programs are meant to be an antidote to the foreign govt versions accessed by those who are interested in the old country. In that they are useful and justified, but 2 programs hardly justify a whole damned 24/7 channel!

  2. Mandarin is the second most popular native language in Australia but it is only spoken by 2.5% of the population. Arabic is 3rd with 1.4%. The overseas newses cost them nothing, the Mandarin and Arabic News are just TV versions of what they offer on SBS Radio, and no one is calling that a waste. SBS is required to be multi-lingual but they certainly aren’t doing that on their main TV channel. It is on Channel 35 for those who want it. The main reason they are doing it is to start daytime TV on the main channel.

    1. SBS has been showing assorted repeat filler series on SBS1 and 2 already-freed up a little more time in the morning is all-a number of foreign English language news programs have been added that partly replace the stuff shunted to 35.

  3. If they have English subtitles on the in-house productions SBS News In Arabic and SBS News In Mandarin, that would open up the potential for a larger audience and greatly benefit cross-cultural community relations, and aid foreign language learning for both people that use English learning Arabic or Mandarin, and people that are learning English. They were using the Mandarin or Chinese script for parts where English was spoken so it’s a matter of adding English subtitles for the parts with Mandarin and Arabic speech.

    I agree that it would take a little time for people to become aware and familiar with the new channel and timetable.

  4. I despair of the lack of common sense that has allowed SBS to do this silly waste of resources-it’s like shoving a copy of ”Pravda’ through every letter box in the country to reach the few who can read it and are at all interested in what it says.

    1. Baffling they went the linear route with this when it’s brief is far better served through an on demand portal. Why wait until SBS give you the news in your language at a time that suits them when you can get it at a time that suits you, probably from the same source as SBS.

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