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Audience-led evolution

SBS exists for all Australians and is focused on improving the experience of its diverse audience across all platforms. Through a range of research and engagement activities in 2019-20, SBS sought to better understand audience behaviours, to deliver the greatest impact across its content and services.

This focus on audience experience and acting on insights from a deep understanding of audience expectations helped to improve audience retention, with an increase of 19 per cent in average monthly users across SBS’s digital platforms when compared with 2018-19.

SBS Meet the Audience

Being ‘audience obsessed’ is one of SBS’s core values. In 2019-20, SBS engaged directly with audiences through monthly Meet the Audience sessions, inviting audience members (both viewers and non-viewers of SBS) in metropolitan and regional locations to meet with employees from many parts of the organisation. This forum is an opportunity for SBS to gather valuable observations and insights directly from audience members. The insights help to inform content, product and marketing decisions.

Meet the Audience events were put on hold from March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Exchange Panel

SBS continued to engage with audiences through the Exchange Panel, an online community of more than 15,000 panellists - many of whom have an interest in SBS. In 2019-20, the NITV audience panel grew to more than 3,000 panellists, allowing the organisation to obtain valuable feedback from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as passionate non-Indigenous audiences.

The Exchange Panel facilitated a diverse range of studies across 2019-20, including reviewing pivotal content moments for SBS, such as the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Eurovision Song Contest 2019, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Struggle Street season three, as well as research to help understand perceptions and engagement with digital platforms. Additional studies focused specifically on audiences from LOTE backgrounds.

More than 100 activities were conducted, and 40,000 responses were collected from online communities that truly reflect Australia’s multicultural society, with a strong representation of members born overseas and one in three respondents speaking a language other than English.

SBS Brand Health

SBS monitors awareness of its brand, and the impact of its content on audiences via bespoke research, including SBS Brand Pulse, a monthly survey to gauge audience perceptions. Overall, SBS brand awareness has remained very strong, with 76 per cent of Australians aware of the brand and 77 per cent believing that “it’s good that SBS exists”.1

The SBS Brand Pulse provides confirmation from a nationally representative sample of respondents that SBS is delivering against its core purpose and continues to provide relevant content and services to Australian audiences. The research gives the organisation a current view of media consumption habits and explores perceptions of SBS and its different services, guiding programming decisions to ensure SBS continues to meet audience needs.


  1. SBS Brand Pulse, The Exchange Nationally Representative Panel, May 2020.