SBS’s highly-regarded international and domestic sports offering united Australia’s diverse communities through quality coverage of some of the world’s biggest events.
2018-19 was dominated by football, including SBS’s coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ which reached 9.1 million Australians. The SBS team delivered 57 matches live for television, 55 on digital platforms and the full 68 matches on radio, with the first two Socceroos matches delivering a combined TV audience in excess of two million. The 2018 live matches saw a 14 per cent increase in average audiences compared to coverage of the 2014 tournament.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM was a huge driver of digital consumption. A new World Game website, official app and ground-breaking VR functionality attracted more than four million unique visitors, provided 38 million page views, and generated nearly 10 million video views across the 32 days of the tournament. The World Cup period saw new SBS user registrations increase by nearly 800,000.
Social media also enabled significant audience engagement, with new partnerships highlighting the power of social media platforms in extending conversations online. In particular, SBS’s work with Twitter was a huge success, with over 1.5 million viewers for the daily #WorldGameLive Twitter show from Red Square in Moscow – which also served as a platform for Lucy Zelić’s widely seen and commented-on story about pronunciations and multicultural respect. Social media platforms generated nearly 14 million views and brought in additional incremental revenue to the business, without cannibalising SBS’s owned platforms or revenue streams.
SBS won the 2019 TV Week Logie Award for Most Outstanding Sport Coverage for its 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM coverage.
In October SBS kicked off a series of international football matches featuring Australia’s Matildas. Interest in women's sport continued with strong audiences for the Matilda's Cup of Nations game (92,000) ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019TM in June.
SBS offered audiences unrivalled coverage of the world’s biggest women’s football event. The major games of the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019TM were covered live, free and in HD across television and online, while all 52 matches were also live on SBS Radio in multiple languages. Three million Australians tuned in to the television broadcasts throughout the tournament. SBS amplified its offering with social media content including a live Twitter show (see the Sport section in the Engaged Audiences Chapter), and a new SBS Learn educational resource, Everyone’s Game, was produced to celebrate the tournament and raise awareness about the inclusiveness of football (see SBS Learn).
In July, SBS delivered the domestic and world broadcast feeds as the A-League side, Perth Glory, took on English powerhouse Chelsea. Continuing SBS’s innovative partnership with social media platforms, SBS broadcast the match live on Twitter (excluding the UK) with more than one million people watching internationally.
The W-League returned to SBS VICELAND, showcasing the best local talent alongside international stars. SBS saw a strong end to the season, with the final between Sydney FC and Perth Glory averaging 62,000 viewers (Metro & Regional).
Showcasing the first Indigenous national men’s and women’s football teams playing representative football, SBS livestreamed the finals of the Arafura Games from Darwin on its The World Game Facebook page. This was the first time the games were shown live, and SBS made them available to more people than ever before, continuing its commitment to Indigenous sports.
The domestic football season came to a close in May, with the Premier League’s third season back on SBS recording stable engagement year on year, with a valuable 25-54 demographic on Saturday nights.
SBS Sport continued to bring audiences the best in football from around the world, having secured the exclusive free-to-air rights to two South American football competitions, with the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana.
In 2019, SBS partnered with the UN Women National Committee Australia for International Women’s Day, bringing to life the 2019 theme, “More Powerful Together” and highlighting SBS’s efforts to promote women’s sports in Australia. Lucy Zelić hosted two official events in Sydney and Canberra and supported SBS’s employee action group, The Network, hosting an internal International Women’s Day event with footballers Joey Peters, Jada Whyman and Ros Moriarty who shared their personal journeys and hopes for other women in the sport.
Tour de France
The other major sporting event in 2018-19 was the Tour de France. SBS saw great success with Tour audiences, reaching five million Australians and delivering an impressive year-on-year rise in metro share from 8.3 per cent to 9.3 per cent of total people.
In the digital space, Cycling Central’s coverage saw a 245 per cent increase in video views – an extra half a million versus the previous year. The Tour Tracker was once again a hugely popular way of consuming the race, with over 1.1 million live streams served in July.
SBS continued to explore its partnership with Twitter by streaming all 21 live stages of La Vuelta on the @twitterSportsAU platform. The coverage generated a total of 15,891 live streams. The Australian-owned team Mitchelton Scott was successful in securing its first ever Grand Tour victory, with British cyclist Simon Yates, generating a steady increase in audience reach and engagement across the three-week broadcast.
Other Cycling Events broadcast in 2018-19:
- La Vuelta 2018
- UCI Road Worlds 2018
- Herald Sun Tour 2019
- Paris-Nice 2019
- Tour of Flanders 2019
- Paris-Roubaix 2019
- Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2019
- Tour of California 2019
- Fleche-Wallonne 2019
- Criterium du Dauphine 2019
- Amstel Gold 2019
- Cape Epic MTB 2019
- Australian Road Nationals 2019
SBS Sport in partnership with Lateral Events and the Amaury Sport Organisation (owners of the Tour de France) held the third edition of L’Etape Australia by le Tour de France – the largest Tour de France event staged outside of France and the most prestigious and challenging road cycling race in Australia. Over 2,500 cyclists took part in the ride on December 1 in the Snowy Mountains. SBS cycling commentator Matthew Keenan hosted coverage at the finish line in Jindabyne, calling riders across the line in true Tour de France style.
Women’s National Basketball League
SBS Sport secured rights to the Women’s National Basketball League, which was broadcast for the first time on SBS in 2019 as the organisation built on its commitment to making the best of domestic sport accessible to all Australians, as well as raising the profile of women’s elite sport.
Grand Slam Tennis
US Open Tennis
SBS television coverage reached 1.3 million Australians with a combined average audience of 85,000 across all matches, an 80.1 per cent increase in audience compared to the 2017 average of 47,000.
Australian John Millman made it to the Men’s Quarter Finals, delivering SBS an audience of 191,000 viewers. Online, the US Open saw a huge 600 per cent increase in video views year on year. Social performance was also very strong, with engagement peaking during Millman’s shock win against Roger Federer and Serena Williams’ fiery exchange with the umpire.
Roland Garros French Open
SBS’s broadcast of the 2019 French Open reached 3.17 million Australians, an increase of 46 per cent year on year, having reached 2.17 million in 2018. An audience of 759,000 local tennis fans tuned in to watch Ash Barty make history as the first Australian in 46 years to take out the French Open singles title. Online, SBS saw significant audience engagement with a 550 per cent increase in total video views year on year.
Other sport highlights
- SBS Sport won the 2019 TV Week Logie Award for Most Outstanding Sport Coverage for its 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM coverage.
- Lucy Zelić was recognised for Best Individual Sport Coverage – Broadcast at the prestigious Sport Australia Media Awards.
- Cycling Central won Best Sport & Recreation podcast at the 2019 Australian Podcast Awards.
- Craig Foster’s efforts to assist in the safe return of refugee Hakeem al-Araibi to Australia generated wide and significant engagement on The World Game website and social platforms.
- Lawn bowls returned to SBS on Sundays with an hour-long highlights show scheduled across 20 weeks. SBS renewed its partnership with The Bowls Show for a fourth season including the 2019 Australian Open live in June.
- SBS’s Saturday afternoon sport timeslot continues with the ever-popular International Skating Union and FIG Gymnastics World Cup events.