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Consistent commercial performance in a challenging market environment

SBS Media generates commercial revenues through the sale of advertising and sponsorship across SBS’s free-to-air television, digital and radio channels. SBS’s In-Language Production team provides services including video production and translation and SBS Distribution extends the reach and commercial returns of SBS content through cultural training, promotional partnerships and events.

Commercial performance

SBS total advertising and sponsorship activities generated $104.9 million in revenue in 2019-20. This included the impact of the launch of SBS World Movies as a free-to-air channel in July 2019, as well as digital growth across SBS websites and SBS On Demand.

The immediate impact of COVID-19 in the first half of 2020 saw the national advertising market slow down, with large corporates reducing marketing spend. Overall, television revenue experienced double-digit declines for the period April to May 2020.

SBS’s focus on great business initiatives continued in 2019-20, including engaging with industry groups, and the ongoing automation of television booking processes. SBS has continued the digital transformation journey, enabling the sales team to maintain SBS’s position relative to the market.

SBS Cultural Connect delivered bespoke services to clients during the year. Designed to help organisations better understand and connect with Australia’s increasingly diverse population, SBS Cultural Connect services include research, strategy and culture-specific messaging, production and translation.

SBS Inclusion Program

Delivering on SBS’s broader Charter obligations, the SBS Inclusion Program builds capabilities in workplace inclusion. Collaborating with leading organisations, SBS has created highly engaging online training courses, with modules including LGBTIQ+, gender, age, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and cultures, disability and cultural diversity, to help businesses embrace diversity and create safe and inclusive workplaces.

The program is now licensed to over 400 organisations, with more than 600,000 employees having access to the suite of online training courses.

The accompanying online Cultural Atlas resource, which provides information on 71 different countries’ cultures and customs, attracted more than 1.2 million unique visitors in 2019-20.1


As part of its commitment to delivering a meaningful advertising experience to Australia’s multicultural and diverse communities, SBS Media conducted several research projects during the year, including “Calling Australia Home: the new migrants’ path to purchase”. SBS also commissioned RMIT University to undertake new research into Australia’s growing ageing population, revealing views and buying habits of consumers aged 55 years and older, including the belief that brands do not cater for this demographic in their advertising, despite controlling more than half of Australia’s wealth.

SBS Radio and In-Language Production

The SBS Radio sales team worked across a range of projects and campaigns to grow awareness of Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities with national clients and their advertising agencies. SBS developed relevant research and meaningful insights to drive behavioural change and challenge clients to look beyond mainstream media by targeting all Australians with their advertising campaigns.

All markets saw increased interest from state and territory governments, and national clients, wanting to advertise directly to multicultural communities via SBS Radio and SBS’s in-language television and digital content, including a significant increase in CALD messaging from government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SBS In-Language Production worked across a range of projects to deliver premium translation and multicultural marketing products to government, corporate and agency clients. Services included National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) Certified translation, typesetting, video production, subtitling, cross-cultural consultancy, voice over and narration.

The year also saw accreditation gained to the Services Australia panel of Creative and Digital Communication providers. In-Language Production played a critical role working closely with a range of state and territory government agencies in NSW, WA, ACT, as well as the Federal Government in communicating important COVID-19 information to Australia’s multicultural communities.

SBS Distribution

SBS Distribution continued its cinema partnerships in 2019-20, promoting six movies across the year, including Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Judy and Punch, Sorry We Missed You and The Keeper.

SBS Distribution also partnered with Lateral Events to promote the L’Etape du Tour cycling event, attracting more than 2,500 riders to the Snowy Mountains. See Cycling.


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