By Brandon Bentley
In the midst of a wild and fun pride filled weekend, a dark and cloudy storm quickly approached on Saturday evening, as SBS covered the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. Hosted by the best and brightest of Australian queer culture Narelda Jacobs, Courtney Act, Joel Creasey, and Zoë Coombs Marr, SBS’ latest attempt at televising the landmark event was met with more jeers than cheers this year.
Many vviewers were disappointed to see that SBS’ coverage of the event pulled focus from the parade itself, with airtime primarily dedicated to advertising, presenter’s commentary, in-house interviews with celebrities, and a handful of on-location interviews.
Viewers expressed their frustration with the broadcasts’ disregard of many parade floats and the story behind them. Other viewers expressed disappointment that the protesting of the Liberal government parade float was completely cut from the broadcast.
Still not everyone was upset. Some viewers were quite pleased with SBS’ live coverage, singling out the professionalism of Courtney Act, the online broadcast, and the unrestricted coverage of the event worldwide. One commenter notes, “SBS did a great job! Much better than what ABC has done in the past.”
SBS’ Commissioning Editor of Entertainment & Food Josh Martin told the Star Observer, “We’re thrilled with the success of our first ever live broadcast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.” Noting the “400,000” viewers who tuned into the telecast, he continued on by emphasising the importance of the live-cast to the world, stating the removed geo-block on SBS On Demand “allowed fans from all over the world to tune in – which is particularly important for members of the LGBTIQ+ community who live in countries still as risk of persecution for their sexuality.”
Now with the parade’s contract up for renewal by the end of the year, many outlets such as the ABC are vying for a piece of the action. With an overwhelmingly dissatisfied reaction by viewers to this year’s broadcast, SBS may need to step up their game if they hope to keep the party going in 2021.