SBS On Demand review

SBS On Demand is a not-at-all demanding place to find some quality on-demand TV and movie viewing options.

SBS On Demand LOGO
SBS On Demand
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
  • Check
    Quality movie selection
  • Check
    Recent TV series and select sports
  • X
    Lengthy ad breaks
  • X
    720p max resolution
Published on November 03, 2021
5 min read
Quick verdict
With so many premium streaming services out there that charge a monthly subscription to access, it’s great to find quality amid the free-to-air streaming companions. Every major channel in Australia has a streaming service nowadays—Ten Play, 9Now, 7plus, ABC iView and SBS On Demand—and while all are ad-supported services, it really breaks down to not just how many hours of content they offer, but how many of those hours are quality. Cue the entry of SBS On Demand, which has bragging rights to a great mix of quality and quantity. While it’s not on the same level as Netflix, Stan or Prime Video, there’s still plenty to watch that helps to make up for some of SBS On Demand’s detractors. Those cons start with lengthy ad breaks and a 720p max resolution, but if you want a great selection of movies, some solid TV options and a smattering of sports, SBS On Demand is absolutely worth installing.
Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Quality movie selection
Pro Bullet Recent TV series
Pro Bullet Basketball and cycling
Pro Bullet Wide range of supported devices
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Lengthy ad breaks
Con Bullet 720p max resolution
Con Bullet Depth of TV series
Con Bullet Light on other sports
Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Is SBS On Demand free?

Demand is only able to offer free streaming because whatever you watch is ad-supported. And the bad news is those ad breaks can be looong. How long? Try four back-to-back ads that collectively last two minutes, and that’s after an opening advert.

While it’s easy to appreciate the quality of the content available on SBS On Demand, watching a 22-minute episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine with two doses of two-minute ad breaks really does take the wind out of the comedic momentum of an episode, more so because it starts with 30 seconds of ads, too. Those 4.5 minutes of ads amount to around 20% of an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I strongly suggest using them for bathroom or snack breaks. Things fare better for hour-long shows, which only have one additional two-minute ad break.

Movies have the best spread of ads after the initial 30-second opener, with four ad breaks spread every 20-or-so minutes throughout the running time. But if you’re primarily watching shorter shows, expect to regularly notice the ad breaks.

SBS On Demand movies

Movies on SBS On Demand

You don’t have to scroll for too long to find plenty of quality movies to watch on SBS On Demand. You can manually search for something you know is on the service or, alternatively, use the categories at the top of the page to search by genre. The other option is an appreciated Netflix-like approach wherein movies are separated into meaningful categories as you scroll.

Up the top you’ll find recently added flicks before the scroll descends into general categories like documentaries or quirkier categorisations like ‘The Oscar Goes To’ for Oscar-winning movies. Scrolling through the full JustWatch range of SBS On Demand movies, there are loads of impressive popular titles at the top of the list of the 650+ options that were available at the time of review.

For instance, get your zombie fix with Train to Busan, watch one of the greatest time travel movies ever made in Predestination, or dive into one of Luc Besson’s best in Léon: The Professional. For those brave enough to match lockdown mood to their movie picks, there’s engrossing (albeit draining) drama to be found in Spotlight, Shame, Incendies, The Railway Man and We Need to Talk About Kevin. If you fancy a laugh, there’s plenty of options, including Bend it Like Beckham, The Death of Stalin and the swear-tastic In The Loop.

You don’t have to try something new to find a great pick, either. Revisit classics like the bloodthirsty Apocalypto, the criminally underrated Dredd or iconic martial arts flick Ip Man. The more you scroll, the more classics you spot, even outside of the current popular picks: True Grit, Flawless and Police Story 2, to name a few.

As you can see from the list above, that’s a mix of quality movies from home and around the world. While none of them are particularly big-budget Hollywood films, there’s enough quality in there to keep you constantly tapping that heart option and filling up your personalised favourites list.

SBS On Demand TV series

TV shows on SBS On Demand

Even for someone who watches way too much TV, scrolling through the popular JustWatch picks of SBS On Demand content starts strong but soon descends into unfamiliar territory. Still, there are some exceptional options to keep you entertained from 300+ options.

Have a laugh with Why Women Kill, new episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Orville or the loony Letterkenny. Alternatively, there’s quality drama to be found in The Handmaid’s Tale, Halt and Catch Fire, or Mr. Mercedes. If you want something in between, Donald Glover’s Atlanta deserves all of its buzz. SBS On Demand is also the place to go for iconic Nordic noir series like the ones that start with “The”—The Killing, The Bridge and The Machinery— as well as others that don’t start with “The” but do conveniently start with “B”, including Below the Surface, Beforeigners and Blinded.

This is also where you can find a whole lot of drool-worthy SBS Food content, which is definitely tough to look at when you’re trying to be healthy.

SBS On Demand cycling and other sports

Even for someone who watches way too much TV, scrolling through the popular JustWatch picks of SBS On Demand content starts strong but soon descends into unfamiliar territory. Still, there are some exceptional options to keep you entertained from 300+ options.

Have a laugh with Why Women Kill, new episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Orville or the loony Letterkenny. Alternatively, there’s quality drama to be found in The Handmaid’s Tale, Halt and Catch Fire, or Mr. Mercedes. If you want something in between, Donald Glover’s Atlanta deserves all of its buzz. SBS On Demand is also the place to go for iconic Nordic noir series like the ones that start with “The”—The Killing, The Bridge and The Machinery— as well as others that don’t start with “The” but do conveniently start with “B”, including Below the Surface, Beforeigners and Blinded.

This is also where you can find a whole lot of drool-worthy SBS Food content, which is definitely tough to look at when you’re trying to be healthy.

SBS On Demand app

For starters, SBS On Demand is available on an expected range of devices:

  • Google Chrome (75 and above)
  • Firefox (67 and above)
  • Safari (10.1.2 and above)
  • Internet Explorer 11 (requires Flash 11+)
  • Microsoft Edge (17 and above)
  • iOS (13 and above)
  • Android (8.0 and above)
  • Android TV (7 and above)
  • Fire TV stick (Fire OS 5)
  • Apple TV (4th gen)
  • Hisense TVs (2017 models and later)
  • Samsung TVs (2012 models and later)
  • LG TVs (2013 models and later)
  • Panasonic TVs (2013 models and later)
  • Sony TVs (2013 models and later)
  • Telstra TV
  • Freeview Plus-certified TVs

That’s a great selection of devices and means you should be able to stream SBS On Demand on pretty much whatever you like, even if you have older devices. Most of my review time was spent jumping between the Android app, Chrome browser and the Nvidia Shield TV Pro, the latter of which proved to be a godsend with the lower resolution.

Y’see, one of the biggest letdowns of SBS On Demand is that it maxes out at 720p streaming quality. While decent, 720p (HD) streams tend to suffer in the detail with more noticeable visual noise and less clarity than 1080p (Full HD) streams. Where the Nvidia Shield TV Pro proves to be a lifesaver is with its AI-powered on-the-fly upscaling, which makes a 720p stream look a lot better than what it looks like on a 27-inch PC screen (like the recently reviewed MSI Optix MAG274QRF-QD gaming monitor), even if it’s less noticeable on a smaller smartphone screen, like the Google Pixel 5.

SBS On Demand quality and data usage

Resolution
Megabits per second
Data per hour
400x2240.23Mbps103.5MB
640x3600.82Mbps369MB
640x360 (better)1.62Mbps729MB
1280x7202.27Mbps1021MB

You will notice a difference if you cast from a compatible mobile device to a bigger screen, though. And you definitely don’t want to stream at lower resolutions (see the table above), unless you’re desperate to preserve mobile data. Outside of that, the Android app understandably has a leaner design, but it also strangely swaps out the “TV Shows” section for “Programs”. It’s not a big deal, but it is an odd choice to defy consistency.

Is SBS On Demand worth using?

SBS On Demand is absolutely worth using. Even if it could benefit from a resolution buff and fewer ads on shorter shows—or at least more spread out to not disrupt the flow—SBS On Demand has a killer selection of movies, some quality TV choices (including big zeitgeist picks) and some great sports options, too. There are no big download requirements for the apps nor the shows you’re streaming, so you really should have it installed alongside other streaming services.

SBS On Demand FAQ

Whether you’re looking for SBS world movies or any other content available on SBS, you can find the SBS TV guide here. Click on the tabs at the top to select a channel, then use the state and location dropdown menus to pick what’s showing based on where you’re located. For the SBS On Demand TV guide, use that same link above but make sure the state is set to NSW because that’s what’s used as the basis for the five live SBS channels on SBS On Demand.
If you’re having issues with SBS On Demand, you can always try logging out then logging back in or uninstalling then reinstalling the app. Alternatively, SBS has a page dedicated to troubleshooting specific issues.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence

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