In 2018-19, SBS expanded its entertainment offering, delivering new formats in a uniquely SBS way and bringing Australians together with live coverage of diverse and inclusive events.
Presented in association with Australian Mensa, Child Genius brought together 19 gifted children, aged seven to 12, in a thrilling competition that celebrated the phenomenal academic achievements of Australian children.
The six-part series also marked the return of Dr Susan Carland to SBS as host, ten years after the ground-breaking Salaam Café.
In a unique competition documentary format, child participants underwent a string of challenging quizzes, in a show that all the family could engage with.
Child Genius achieved a combined television audience reach of 1.67 million.
SBS Learn’s complementary campaign featured a series of quizzes and puzzles developed in association with Australian Mensa and translated into multiple languages to engage multicultural communities.
“…it's thoroughly satisfying to see these kids compete in a supportive and enriching environment; to have their qualities celebrated; to see the happiness it brings them to finally be among their own kind; and of course to be there for the final, nail-biting battle of the brilliant program.”
– The Fairfax Guide, 14 November 2018
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2019
SBS marked its fifth year broadcasting the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras live from Sydney’s Oxford Street, and with supporting content across its network in the lead up to the main event in March.
Founded in 1978, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has become one of the world’s largest and most-loved LGBTIQ+ celebrations. In 2019, the festival’s theme was ‘Fearless’, in honour of the resilience, activism, protest and celebration that makes up the LGBTIQ+ community and fuels the continued fight for equality.
Hosted by Narelda Jacobs, Joel Creasey, Patrick Abboud and Zoë Coombs Marr, SBS’s coverage explored important themes around social justice, while bringing Australians all the entertainment from the parade.
The parade was broadcast live on SBS On Demand, achieving 53,000 video starts, and on the SBS Twitter account. SBS Arabic24 also reported live from the parade to Arabic speaking audiences around Australia, and NITV provided live coverage on its social media channels.
SBS’s broadcast of the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras continues to be a celebration of diversity, inclusion and acceptance for the LGBTIQ+ community and its allies.
Patrick Abboud shared the power of SBS’s broadcast in an interview with Fairfax journalist, Jill Stark (27 February 2019):
“After six years as host, Abboud hopes that each Mardi Gras broadcast helps empower more people who are struggling, just as he did, to be comfortable with who they are. “What we’re trying to do is show people that they aren’t isolated so that they get to the point where they feel confident and comfortable and safe enough in whatever worlds they’re moving in to step out of the shadows and to know they’re not alone”.
Famous for its challenging questions and intimidating setting, legendary quiz show Mastermind returned to Australia in April 2019, after 34 years.
Hosted by Jennifer Byrne, one of the few female quizmasters worldwide, the program welcomed contenders to the iconic Mastermind chair with two minutes to answer as many questions as possible on their chosen specialist subject; everything from Italian food to Australian Prime Ministers; Greek mythology to Women in Australian RallySport – and everything in between.
Since its launch in April, the series has delivered a 50 per cent lift in the timeslot average for 6pm weeknights, and continues to receive strong positive feedback from audiences.
Eurovision: Australia Decides
In February, Australia evolved its Eurovision Song Contest journey to give Australians the chance to choose Australia’s representative in the world’s biggest song contest in 2019.
Eurovision: Australia Decides saw strong support from the Australian music industry, which recognised the event as an opportunity for emerging songwriters and performers to showcase homegrown creative talents to global audiences.
More than 700 songs were submitted for consideration, with 10 artists selected to participate in the inaugural competition, broadcast live from the Gold Coast. Replicating the format of many national selection shows, Australians were able to vote for their favourite song during the broadcast, with the final decision determined by a combination of 50 per cent viewer votes and 50 per cent by a jury.
During the live broadcast #AusDecides trended at #3 globally, and one of the contenders, Indigenous electro-pop duo, Electric Fields, trended #7 globally on Twitter. Domestically, seven of the top 10 hashtags were program-related. The broadcast secured a total audience of 411,000, which marked an 80 per cent increase on the timeslot average for the previous 12 months.
Operatic pop artist Kate Miller-Heidke was named the ultimate winner of the national selection show, and proceeded to represent Australia with her song ‘Zero Gravity’ on the global stage in May.
"Something incredible happened on television on Saturday night. It wasn’t just the fact that ten Australian musicians performed ten original songs live on TV and hundreds of thousands of people were watching (Saturday night is a TV ratings wasteland) and engaging positively on social media…No, it was the fact that Eurovision: Australia Decides was a live TV program with a live phone voting component and the winner was decided and announced ON THE SAME NIGHT. Remarkable. Not a week later. Not a day later. On the same bloody night as the show started."
– Cameron Adams, The Daily Telegraph, 10 February 2019
Eurovision Song Contest 2019
As the home of the Eurovision Song Contest for 36 years, SBS continues to embrace the spirit of the event in bringing cultures together in a celebration of diversity and inclusion through music.
Hosting duo, Joel Creasey and Myf Warhurst returned to host SBS’s 2019 Eurovision coverage, bringing Australians all the glitz from the 64th annual Eurovision Song Contest held in Tel Aviv, Israel.
With an already strong reputation, Australia proceeded to the Grand Final with Kate Miller-Heidke earning early rave reviews.
Kate’s Grand Final performance impressed global audiences, resulting in Australia being awarded the Artistic Award (as voted by the Eurovision TV commentators) in the annual Marcel Bezencon Awards. ‘Zero Gravity’ has charted around the world, as fans connected with its message about emerging from depression.
The world’s biggest song contest was watched by more than 180 million people internationally. Local audience engagement continued to be strong across television and social media, with SBS’s 5am linear broadcast of the live Grand Final reaching a viewership of 739,000.
"Kate Miller-Heidke's Eurovision performance is a game-changer"
– Michael Idato, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 2019