SBS has signed an exclusive option with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), granting it the right to establish an Asian version of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Should it go ahead, Eurovision Asia will encompass up to 20 countries from the Asian Pacific region. The inaugural event would be hosted by Australia in 2017 and thereafter in other countries.
SBS Eurovision production partners Blink TV would play an integral role in developing Eurovision Asia as a broadcast event. Over the next few months it will lead discussions with potential sponsors, commercial partners and regional broadcasters with hopes to bring the event to fruition.
At this stage its unclear how much funding SBS has invested to secure the rights option, or how much it’s willing to invest should the event go ahead. While the government broadcaster has been slashing budgets due to funding cuts, it has recently secured a cash windfall after selling part of its World Cup Football rights to Optus.
The broadcast rights will be licensed on a global basis and the event will offer the chance for Asia Pacific countries to showcase their song writing and performing talent to the world.
Announcing the deal, SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid said:
“As the official broadcaster of Eurovision for over 30 years, SBS is pleased to explore the opportunity to bring an event of this calibre more closely to our shores, strengthening the multicultural ties in our region. Asia Pacific has a spectacular music culture and the perfect next step to extend the Eurovision brand, bringing its hugely popular appeal beyond Australian audiences and to the wider region.
"SBS is the home of SBS PopAsia establishing a robust reputation for Asian language programing and the greatest offering of programs and services in Asian languages of any other network in Australia. We look forward to working closely with organisations across the region and realising this amazing opportunity.
"Increasingly Australia is playing a greater role in the global community and SBS sees entertainment as one area in which we can play an active role in strengthening Australia’s ties with Asia as part of our overall commitment to reflecting multiculturalism and contributing to the social health of our communities.
“We are pleased with the very early discussions across the region and look forward to working with our neighbouring broadcasters to realise this vision.”
Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest Jon Ola Sand said:
"The first Eurovision Song Contest was held in 1956 with the aim of uniting nations and exploring new television technology. Since then, over 50 nations have taken part in this competition which reaches nearly 200 million viewers in Europe every year."
Blink TV Director Paul Clarke said:
“Since Moscow 2009, alongside SBS, we have been building Australia's alliance with Eurovision, a brand that champions diversity, song writers and performers.
"Blink TV and SBS have been granted an opportunity to grow the Eurovision brand from an audience of 200 million, to a potential Asian audience of more than a billion viewers. I am certain we can build the team for this wonderful opportunity, and we look to partners in our part of the world to join us. Asia has an astonishing set of musical and visual cultures, and it will make for brilliant television.
"Imagine - the musical virtuosity of Bollywood, the cutting edge of K-pop, and the excitement of Chinese and Japanese artists - now the biggest music consumers in the world. We are looking to build these partnerships, starting now. It’s a thrilling idea.”