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SBS On Demand

SBS On Demand, Australia’s most diverse streaming service, provides audiences with a truly universal library of more than 9,000 hours of dramas, documentaries and movies.

Sixty-one per cent of all content on the platform is culturally and linguistically diverse, and more than 50 per cent of all premiere and exclusive dramas available are in a language other than English. 2019-20 saw more than 1,500 hours of premiere and exclusive content in languages other than English added to the platform - a 63 per cent increase on the previous year.

The diversity of SBS On Demand’s content offering is critical to its growth in consumption, with 27 of the top 50 titles on the platform being culturally and linguistically diverse, and 12 of the top 50 in a language other than English.

Building on SBS’s commitment to better serve Australia’s diverse communities, SBS On Demand increased its offering of subtitled, commissioned, local Australian stories in Arabic and Simplified Chinese. Over 200 hours of content were subtitled, including SBS- commissions such as The Hunting, Untold Australia, Child Genius, Where Are You Really From?, Marry Me Marry My Family and 41 episodes of Insight. Popular acquired content that was subtitled for SBS On Demand included Years & Years, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Little Drummer Girl. For more information about SBS’s subtitling offering, see Subtitling and Access Services.

In addition to an increased focus on serving multicultural communities on the platform, SBS On Demand also supported culturally diverse audiences through the curation of a series of themed collections to mark significant community celebrations and events, including:

  • Rainbow Pride movie collection to coincide with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
  • Chinese movie collection to mark Lunar New Year.
  • 'Voice Treaty Truth' documentaries and movie collection to mark NAIDOC Week.
  • 'Always Will Be' Indigenous documentaries and movie collection to mark January 26.
  • NITV and SBS on Demand curated a special collection of films and TV programs that explored the issues and themes raised through the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Collection of documentaries to mark Harmony Day.
  • A slate of Warwick Thornton works and a collection of Indigenous films, documentaries and series to mark Reconciliation Week.
  • Collection of films for Refugee Week, in partnership with The Immigration Museum, connecting audiences to the lived experiences of refugees.
  • Collections to support Australians in COVID-19 lockdown, including:
    • Collection of movies curated by the Sydney Film Festival Director.
    • Collection of family movies from around the world.

The availability of full box sets is increasingly vital in the streaming environment, allowing audiences to consume content at their own pace. Full box sets of The Bureau, Bad Banks, Cardinal, Medici and Below The Surface returned to the platform to coincide with new seasons in 2019-20, while in-language titles like seminal Nordic Noir series The Bridge and SBS originals like East West 101 were made available to stream in full for the first time.

SBS continues to bring its high profile, broad appeal series to audiences sooner, by fast-tracking content to SBS On Demand immediately after international broadcast, rather than viewers having to wait for an appropriate prime time slot. In 2019-20 The Handmaid's Tale, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Homeland were all delivered to audiences this way.

In 2020, SBS On Demand also premiered new seasons of The New Pope and international blockbuster Das Boot, as well as in-language dramas like Baghdad Central, Wisting and Agent Hamilton ahead of their SBS linear broadcast, to meet changing audience expectations and demands as streaming becomes an established viewing behaviour.

SBS Short Film Festival

In September 2019, SBS On Demand launched the SBS Short Film Festival, showcasing 13 original short films from teams of diverse filmmakers across the country. The SBS Short Film Festival was the product of the Short-Form Content Initiative, a commitment to providing increased opportunities for Australian creatives from diverse communities.

Partnering with five of Australia’s screen agencies, the initiative aimed to increase the career development opportunities within diverse groups; all films featured Australian creatives from underrepresented societies, including those from multicultural, Indigenous and LGBTIQ+ communities, and those living with disabilities.

The films explored an array of formats, subjects, topics and talent. Some films highlighted the importance of friendship, family, culture and food, while others tackled topical issues such the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families in the 1950s.

Technology and Product Enhancements

SBS also became the first media operator in Australia to offer in-language login and navigation on SBS On Demand, in Chinese and Arabic with more languages to come, significantly extending the utility of SBS’s language investment.

This was part of a much bigger strategic focus for SBS - super-serving communities and extending SBS’s commitment to multicultural audiences. The new login service will not only benefit new Australians but will also support the needs of a rapidly ageing population, given that, as people get older, they tend to revert to their first language. It also enables advertisers to authentically connect with communities in their first language and via SBS’s growing digital video assets.

SBS On Demand saw major updates released on Apple TV, Foxtel, connected TVs and Telstra TV over the course of 2019-20, driving increased engagement and revenue:

  • The Apple TV application was updated to provide a cleaner, richer user interface making it easier for users to find what they are looking for as well as providing additional multilingual support. After the launch of the update in April 2020, the App Store rating increased from 2.6 to 3.6 (out of 5) by June.
  • SBS On Demand on Telstra TV was updated in March 2020, with an immediate positive impact on video completion rates, averaging 88 per cent in March and April, which is significantly higher than almost all other platforms.
  • For the first time, SBS On Demand became available via Foxtel’s IQ3 and IQ4 set top boxes, bringing its diverse catalogue to greater audiences. Just one month after launch in May 2020, Foxtel was accounting for three per cent of consumption on set top boxes.1
  • SBS On Demand on connected TVs was updated to include an improved user interface that makes it easier to distinguish between content types when browsing as well as adding related content recommendations, further enhancing the personalised experience.

With the increased interest in news and current affairs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SBS fast-tracked the implementation of simulcast live streaming on all platforms. Now SBS On Demand audiences can access the SBS linear channels alongside the extensive on demand catalogue.


  1. Adobe Analytics, SBS Production, Chapter Views + Unique Visitors; 01/07/2019 - 30/06/2020.