SBS On Demand Review


Summary

Our Verdict

SBS On Demand


SBS on Demand is an extremely robust catch-up service fused with a virtual video library's worth of free movies

 
Overall 88%
Content
Usability
Value

Whether you’re interested in news, the arts, UK drama, art-house movies, or cutting-edge Australian comedies, dramas, and documentaries, there’s going to be something on SBS on Demand to grab your attention.

The Facts

  • SBS’ free-to-air catch-up streaming service
  • Price: Free
  • Top content: The Handmaid’s Tale, Tin Star, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Streaming devices: Apple & Android devices, Apple TV, Fetch TV, Chromecast, PC/Mac, PS4, Smart TVs, Freeview Plus, Telstra TV
  • Support: Phone, Website, Email, App

Named Australia’s “multicultural ABC” when it first went to air, SBS has broadened its scope over the years to become a much-loved home of quality TV and film from around the world, as well as a producer of TV shows and films of its own. Consequently, they’ve amassed a huge and diverse library of content.

Unlike other free-to-air networks, which typically place a large emphasis on television grown in the US, SBS gives you something from everywhere.

SBS On Demand has been running as the network’s catch-up service for over six years. It’s had time to develop into a comprehensive portal for all things SBS and is part of the broader SBS website, which contains sections for all facets of the broadcaster, from news, sport, and food, to indigenous TV (via their digital channel NITV).

What makes SBS On Demand different?

To put it simply – the content. SBS is renowned for its quality of TV from all around the globe in all different genres. There’s great film, captivating drama and hilarious comedy from both at home and abroad. Unlike other free-to-air networks, which typically place a large emphasis on television grown in the US, SBS gives you something from everywhere.

There’s the popular German drama Das Boot, Swedish-grown The Lawyer, as well as a range of great documentaries from around the world. Plus, you can tune into a multitude of quality programs from SBS’ National Indigenous Television network, also known as NITV.

What does SBS On Demand deliver?

A little bit of everything. SBS On Demand is the home of programs aired on SBS and all of its sister channels, which equates to over 7,000 hours of premium content from around the world. Whether it’s TV shows, current affairs, sports or movies that you’re looking for, SBS On Demand is likely to have you covered.

The variety is huge. Tune into some of the most popular dramas in the world like The Handmaid’s Tale, before scouring the movie section – host to over 650 titles – for obscure titles from all over the globe. The number of episodes from a given series which are available on demand varies from show to show, but typically it will be limited to the last handful which have aired, though in some cases – The Handmaid’s Tale being one – entire series’ can be streamed whenever you like.

Fancy a movie marathon? SBS on Demand has you covered. Photo: SBS on Demand Official Website

Does SBS On Demand have unique content?

It sure does. Not only is the range of content available on SBS On Demand unique, but a significant portion of the programming is specific to the service. A lot of the array of great news and current affairs programs, for example, are produced by SBS, and even some of the movies – of which there are plenty –  are created by the network.

SBS World Movies

SBS has recently announced that SBS World Movies, a new channel solely dedicated to international cinema, will be available, free and in HD, from 1 July 2019. SBS already houses hundreds of titles, making it the go-to channel of those who have a rich, diverse taste in film. Its massive collection of unique and multilingual films will only expand with the launch of World Movies, which used to be subscription-based. Now joining the free-to-air lineup, its launch is a big step for SBS — a notable development in their film offering. There’ll be European art-house films, Bollywood features, romantic comedies, animes, critically acclaimed movies, and even the latest titles fresh from the cinema.

What about sport?

There’s a lot of niche sporting action to be found on SBS On Demand, though predominantly this is in the form of highlights, updates and documentaries rather than actual replays of entire games. As expected, given the strong focus on the world game which SBS has, there is plenty of international football programming here, but it falls short of actual live streams of games – that’s reserved for football-specific apps. There’s also cycling and motorsport content, as well as ice skating, Northern Territory Football League action, and a lot more.

Live sport on SBS On Demand

The following is a list of some of the best live sport you can stream on SBS On Demand:

  • Kooyong Classic
  • Northern Territory Football League (NTFL)
  • WNBL

User experience

The On Demand website is easy to navigate and comes with much the same template as most other similar services. You’ll initially start out on a ‘Featured’ page with some of the most popular shows currently available, but tabs up the top of the page enable you to navigate to ‘Programs’, ‘Movies’, ‘Channels’, ‘News’ and ‘Sport’ so you can zero in on what you’re looking for.

The app, which is available on most devices, is also easy to use. It’s very responsive and will scale down to any advice that it is accessed from, allowing for an interface that is simple to explore and that also showcases the wide range of content on offer.

Picture quality is solid and adjusts automatically based on bandwidth, but as with most catch-up services, you can expect standard definition quality much of the time, with slightly blocky 720p being the closest thing to HD you’re likely to see.

SBS, like the ABC, is a government-funded network, but it has long carried advertising on its broadcast channels to help pay for the costs of purchasing programming and running the network. So it’s not surprising that ads are included before and during shows and movies here as well, whether watching via the website or one of the apps. It’s not overdone though; a typical movie has only three breaks of two ads apiece.

How to access SBS On Demand

Simply head to the website or download the app, and you’re virtually there. If you want to access all the premium content available to you through SBS On Demand, you will need to register and activate your account – not that this is a major hassle, and it is, of course, free of charge to do so. Once you’ve done this you’ll have access to more movies and premium TV than you could dream of.

Device compatibility

You can watch SBS On Demand with the following devices:

DeviceCompatibility
AndroidAndroid 4.4 and above
Apple TV4th Generation
ChromecastYes
Fetch TVYes
Freeview PlusYes
iOS4.4 and above
PCs and MacsGoogle Chrome 55 and above, Firefox 52 and above, Safari 7 and above, IE11, Microsoft Edge 14 and above
Smart TVsHisense TV (2017 models and above), Sony TV (2013 models and above), Samsung and LG TVs (2012 models and above), Panasonic TVs (2011 models and above)
Telstra TVYes

Best Hardware Deals for Streaming TV

The Good

  • Completely for free

The Gotchas

  • Features ad breaks
  • Doesn’t have the best resolution compared to paid streaming services

Summary – A great service for movie lovers

With an extremely robust catch-up service fused with a virtual video library’s worth of free movies, SBS On Demand is well worth visiting – even if you’re merely looking around rather than tracking down the episode of The Handmaid’s Tale you missed last night. As always, higher quality video would be welcome, but the SBS team has done a great job here under a very limited budget.