SBS has announced plans to relaunch SBS2 in the channel’s first major revamp since its launch in 2009 as an extension of the SBS brand.
The revamped SBS2 — with a new logo (pictured) to match — launches on 1 April. It will broadcast a prime-time schedule, leaving alone the broadcaster’s daytime hours of foreign-language news bulletins under the World Watch banner.
SBS chief Michael Ebeid said SBS2 will make the multicultural broadcaster more accessible to younger audiences:
“We know that younger audiences engage with SBS when we broadcast key content like Go Back to Where You Came From, East West 101 and Housos but we want to give that audience a channel they can call their own and that is fully integrated with an online offering. SBS2 will be a channel which is fun and inclusive and all about giving our younger audiences content in the fast-paced way they want it, when they want it and on a device they choose to view it.”
The new SBS2 will also be accompanied by an expansion of SBS’ online viewing platform. In a move to try and stem the access of illegal downloads for content, the new Back 2 Back service will offer complete series downloads of certain programs once the first episode has gone to air.
Heading SBS2′s schedule will be new dramas Threesome and Him & Her and the seventh and final series of Skins. Comedy programming will include Canadian series Bullet in the Face, Belgian series Benidorm Bastards, Russell Howard’s Good News from the UK and the US series Community (already screened on GO!).
Documentaries on SBS2 include Don’t Tell My Mother, tracing the travels of foreign correspondent Diego Buñel; US series Warrior Road Trip; Be Your Own Boss, a UK series where businessman Richard Reed looks to invest in three big ideas presented by aspiring entrepreneurs; The Pitch takes a behind-the-scenes look at two American advertising agencies.
SBS2 will also be the first ever free-to-air home of the Hyundai A-League when the 2013-14 season kicks off in October — with live broadcasts of regular Friday night games and near-live broadcast of finals matches.
The channel will also launch its own nightly news program. The new program, yet to be titled, will screen for 15 minutes and promises a bite-sized, though meaningful, coverage of the news aimed at a youthful, tech-savvy audience.
In aiming at the 16-39 demographic SBS2 will be seeking to appeal to a market already well targeted by other viewing options — both free-to-air and otherwise. It’s also an age group that is becoming less and less attached to the concept of traditional free-to-air television viewing — while the Back 2 Back feature will be appealing it may not translate to ratings numbers, which is no doubt the new SBS2′s goal.
Pending the release of a full program schedule, while it appears that the new program offerings of SBS2 may fit the premise of reflecting some level of cultural diversity (as long as it’s English, American or Canadian), the increasing dominance of prime-time English-language programming across both SBS1 and SBS2 may blur SBS’ unique status as a truly multicultural broadcaster — the reason it was created in the first place — bringing it closer in scope to existing free-to-air networks by providing programs that could just as easily appear on any of its rivals.