SBS 2 re-launches with entire series streaming online

Back2Back and First Fix features let viewers watch entire series online, see exclusive previews

SBS has re-launched its SBS 2 digital TV multi-channel, alongside a unique service that will stream entire original series online as soon as the first episode is broadcast on TV.

The network had its official re-launch yesterday. Billed as “the new channel for emerging culture”, SBS 2 will show content not available on the multicultural network’s main channel — its re-launch includes the popular comedy series Community, live matches from the 2014 Hyundai A-League football season, dark US comedy Bullet In The Face, and a daily pop culture news segment called The Feed.

With yesterday’s launch of SBS 2, the broadcaster also introduced a complementary online streaming service that is unique in Australia. Back2Back is part of the network’s SBS On Demand catch-up TV platform, but rather than only showing a catalogue of programs after they are shown on free-to-air TV, Back2Back will allow access to an entire series as soon as the first episode is broadcast.

The first series to use the Back2Back streaming format is Bullet In The Face, which had its first episode broadcast on SBS 2 digital free-to-air TV on Monday night. The entire six-episode series is now available on SBS On Demand. The entire series of travel documentary Don’t Tell My Mother will also be made available online an hour after the series’ TV debut tonight, and The Tales of Nights will get the same treatment tomorrow.

Fans who like SBS 2’s Facebook page will also get access to exclusive First Fix preview content — the entire first episode of Don’t Tell My Mother is now available to view online, through a link only available to SBS 2 Facebook fans. Other series will premiere on the network’s Facebook page through the First Fix format in the future.

SBS is the first broadcaster to try this online-first strategy worldwide. Although online streaming giants Netflix and Hulu have developed series that have been released entirely simultaneously online, like the critically-lauded House Of Cards, SBS is the world’s first traditional broadcaster to prioritise an online release over regular weekly digital TV broadcasts.

Interestingly, SBS’s main channel is also currently broadcasting Lilyhammer, a Norwegian series co-developed by Netflix. Lilyhammer was one of the first TV series to be released fully online with all episodes available at once, in February 2012. SBS is taking a more traditional approach, only making each episode of the series available online after its television broadcast.

In an interview with TVTonight, SBS Director of TV and Online Content, Tony Iffland, says it is viewers that will benefit from the network’s Back2Back instantly-available innovation:

“They’ll discover Bullet in the Face and think ‘Gee that’s fantastic! I want to watch episode two now. I don’t care if Tony Iffland wants to bring it to me next week at 9:30 on Monday, I want to watch it now!’”

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Campbell Simpson

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