Thoughts on the new SBS World Movies Channel

I am not an avid watcher of SBS. In fact, though I do enjoy the occasional SBS program, I rarely find myself ever flicking to one of the SBS channels when I’m channel surfing and trying to find something to watch. However, I occasionally have found myself looking at the TV guide and seeing that a movie on one of the SBS channels was on and it was half over. Recently also, I have been wanting to delve more into international movies – that is, movies from places other than America, Australia, or the UK.

As if answering my not yet realised wish for a free channel to air more international movies, on 1 July 2019 the Australian Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) released their new channel, SBS World Movies. This new channel promises free 24/7 access to movies from around the world.

The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) was founded on the idea that all Australians should have access to free, culturally-relevant media, regardless of their background, location, or language. The SBS has programming across television, radio, and online. The aim is not only to enable Australians to access content that is relevant to them, but also to encourage all Australians to participate in and explore our diverse world.

As a continuation of SBS’s mission of providing Australians free access to culturally relevant, diverse content emerges SBS World Movies. The new SBS World Movies channel follows the World Movies channel which was previously subscription-only and available on Foxtel. This new channel, featuring movies from around the world in HD, aims to improve accessibility to international films through supplying free films on the new SBS World Movies channel and online at SBS OnDemand. The channel also aims to increase cultural awareness and inclusion through special programming to mark cultural occasions such as Divali, Lunar New Near, International Women’s Day and Mardi Gras.

Though the channel has indeed been airing movies 24/7 since its release, the same movies on SBS World Movies are often played multiple times in a span of a few days. The Channel has only existed for a little under a week and already the Studio Ghibli movie, Spirited Awayhas played at least three times. The French film The Beat My Heart Skipped (2005) has also been aired multiple times, playing at Tuesday July 9 at around 10pm, and Wednesday July 10 at 3:10am and 11:45pm. The list of movies on SBS World Movies being played two, three, or perhaps even more times almost seems to consist of most movies aired on the new channel.

It should, however, probably be noted that this repetition of the exact same program at various times of the day is not intrinsic to SBS World Movies. It is a phenomenon that has been seen by other large free-to-air channels such as 10Peach and 7Flix.

The emergence of a new Australian free-to-air channel promising a plethora of free movies brings to mind channel 7flix, owned by Seven West Media, which was launched in early 2016. Channel 7flix began primarily as a movie channel, promising one movie each night with many other movies featured throughout the week. Though Channel 7flix still does air movies, today the movies are aired at the same peak movie times as it does on any of the other channels, with movies mostly only aired on Friday nights and weekends.

But is this movie replaying on SBS World Movies set to continue, or is this just a warm up to a wider range of movies?

All in all, I am glad and excited for this new channel. I do hope that this new world movies channel continues to actually air international movies 24/7, as is presently promised, rather than treading the same footsteps as 7flix and winding up rarely airing any movies during weekdays. I suppose only time will tell.


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