Open letter to the people of SBS Broadcasting

Written by M.

Yes, it’s time for another open letter. After the crap promotion of This Is Us on FOX Netherlands, which still isn’t great but that’s for another time, there is something else that has caught my attention. It seems that SBS Broadcasting, the company behind SBS6, Net5, Veronica and SBS9, has a difficult time to remember which channel is which.

In July 2016 the entire country was shocked when it was announced that after 17 (!) years at NOS, Rik van de Westelaken was leaving for the commercial channel Net5. This is the man that presented the Day of national grief at NOS, after flight MH17 was shot from the sky, which was nominated for an Emmy. He would no longer present our country biggest news program to host programs at the, let’s face it, struggling channel. But I’m not judging that decision, I was actually really excited about that. I’ve been watching the channel for years and years, it was about time that the channel got another stud as a face of the channel again. Because, after Art Rooijakkers left years ago, there hasn’t been that much national eye candy on the channel. I was excited for him to host the program Peking Express, a program that was once one of the highest scoring programs, hoping the show would make a real comeback.

Here we are a year later and if you ask random people out on the street, which channel Rik represents, people would know the answer. Sure, Rik presented Peking Express in April and Rik over the border in May, in which he visited people who live in an unconventional way around the world. But before he even made his debut on the channel he left NOS for, he was the host of the quiz show 5 Golden Rings on sister-channel SBS6 in January. And today it’s announced that Rik will once again present a show on SBS6. This time it for Team Missing Person, a program that used to be on one of our public channels. Which will make it two to two. Which channel is your home Rik?

Rik is not the only one. Airen Mylene has been one of the faces of SBS6 ‘Shownieuws’ since 2014, besides hosting several other shows for the channel. And yet here she was on Net5 in December, hosting VT living: remodel or move. And yet she is announced as a face of SBS6. If you, SBS Broadcasting, can so easily place hosts at another channel, why not present them as a face of SBS Broadcasting, instead of specifying a channel? Wouldn’t that make it easier? That way you can use the hosts’ strong points for each program at all the channels without it coming across messy.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop with the channel’s faces. SBS Broadcasting also has a tendency to shuffle their programs between the channels. For those who don’t know the channels, know this, SBS6 is the family channel, Net5 the female oriented channel, while Veronica is the male oriented channel and then there’s SBS9, which is basically the channel where they schedule all of their stock and reruns. So you’d think that placing a program at a channel is a thought out choice, once a program is placed on a channel, it will stay there. Well that’s not the case. It all started a couple of years ago when Where is de Mol was scoring big on Veronica. In this program the host Johnny de Mol, son of television tycoon John de Mol, traveled across the world. Each week he had a different celebrity and they traveled to the country of their choosing, all the while they conversation-like interview. Because of this people got to see a whole different side of our national celebrities. A beauty of a program and Johnny did this perfectly. All was right for 5 seasons, the ratings were going strong. But there was one problem, according to the high chiefs of SBS, it was scheduled on Veronica and not on their ‘flagship’ SBS6. So it moved, away from Veronica, to find a new home on SBS6, so it could reach more people, they said. Which is kind of ridiculous, neither of the channels is a digital channel. It’s not like in the olden days where a lot people only received 3 channels. If they have SBS6, they also have Veronica, it’s just a matter of switching of channel 6 to channel 9, depending on your provider. But the mighty had spoken, so it had to happen. Not that it mattered, the ratings weren’t that much better and after 2 more seasons Johnny de Mol called it quits and moved to the competition.

Another example is MasterChef. Net5 was airing all of the versions of MasterChef, Australia, UK, Junior, you name it, they aired it. It even got its own MasterChef Holland and was one of Net5 biggest successes of that time. But again the SBS Gods had spoken and to move to SBS6. Ratings were mediocre and Net5 lost its steady success. Where is it now? MasterChef is now back where it started, at Net5, scoring good ratings at access prime time. And SBS6, went back to Trauma Center, the show that MasterChef once replaced. But it goes both ways. NCIS, for years it was SBS6 best rated acquisition. But with everybody streaming, ratings were dropping a little. So it was dumped on Net5, not just the original, but also NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. Not so bad you think, since it’s actually scoring really well at Net5. But why then air the reruns on SBS6? Wasn’t this channel too good for NCIS?

SBS Broadcasting hasn’t been able to attract the viewers’ attention and keeping them for years. Time and time again a new show has been announced big only to fail to deliver. The last couple years there has been a lot of changes at SBS Broadcasting. The company being sold to two companies, downsized, only to be sold again. But it’s now in the sole hands of John de Mol, the man behind Talpa, who brought you The Voice, with Karin de Groot as Director Television. Will we see some change? Will they figure out the identities of the channels and be able to create some structure? Or will we once again have to search which channel is airing our favorite shows this season?

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