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Anti-Gambling Laws Cost Media Sector, SBS Adapts

Ahead of government laws banning gambling adverts, SBS has revealed new restrictions, which allow individuals to block ads categorised as wagering, alcohol or fast food on its On-Demand TV app. This is a win for viewers but the new laws could cost the media industry millions.

It is expected the media sector will lose roughly $300 million-a-year revenue from the removal of gambling ads from their broadcasts, like last year’s FIFA men’s World Cup where Tabcorp was one of its main sponsors.

Last financial year, SBS generated $173 million from advertising, up 12.7% on the year before, which combines with the $316 million it collected from the federal government.

According to SBS, the customisation of ads is a industry first and averts government intrusion into gambling advertising. However, SBS managing director James Taylor said the decision is not linked to the imminent regulations on gambling ads.

“We started with these categories; we think they are logical places to start. It’s great for audiences, for obvious reasons, but it’s great for our commercial partners too. Because it means they’re not paying to reach audiences that have no interest in their product,” Taylor said.

The new advertising option will begin in 2023 and has been embraced by two of the largest corporations in the alcohol and gambling industries, Tabcorp and Endeavour Group, Taylor said.

While other producers, such as Seven, Nine and Ten run 15 minutes of ads, SBS only runs five minutes of ads per hour.

It is expected that the new gambling regulations on advertising, which have come about due to a recent parliamentary inquiry on the effects of online gambling, will be released soon.

“The decision about which categories to include is not linked to government’s deliberations around what categories they might be imposing further or different regulation,” Taylor said.

“This is based on our observations about the categories where audiences will derive a benefit by being able to express a view about what they’d like to see.”

Taylor did not discuss the revenue loss from these categories, but he said that customer satisfaction should rise as 2% of their complaints have to do with wagering ads.

“It’s a small but passionate community of people,” Taylor said.

About 15% of the broadcaster’s total viewing last year was on SBS On Demand.

This is a more significant percentage than other free-to-air operators, however, the vast bulk of its viewers watch the live TV channel when broadcasting shows like Alone Australia, which had a record viewership in 2023.

Of the new opt-out options for viewers, Tabcorp’s marketing chief, Vanessa Sanford, said, “This is an innovative initiative that ensures advertising reaches a receptive audience.”

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