Transactional VOD, Disc Sales Up in Scandinavia

The Nordic video markets have always led global trends when it comes to over-the-top video, transactional VOD and packaged media. It’s no different during a pandemic.

Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland enjoy high penetration of superfast broadband, wide adoption of the English language, a strong market for entertainment and a high level of disposable income.

New data from Futuresource Consulting finds that while consumers in the region subscribe to multiple SVOD services, they are also driving a return to growth for the transactional video market.

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“To see transactional video shifting course and moving into a growth phase is something of a rarity,” market analyst Tristan Veale said in a statement. “These countries are expected to be amongst the first markets to experience the reversal, a direct result of changing consumer behaviour in the face of COVID-19.”

London-based Futuresource expects transactional VOD consumption or renting across DVD, Blu-ray Disc and digital to grow 4% in 2020, the second consecutive year of growth. The biggest player in the digital transactional space remains Apple iTunes, though key growth service Viaplay is successfully upselling transactional video to its existing subscriber base and is a close second

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Despite the rise in transactional video, the Nordics market remains dominated by SVOD, which accounted for 80% of all home video spend in 2019, with Netflix, Viaplay and HBO Nordic leading.

“The Nordic love affair with SVOD continues to blossom,” Veale said. “In 2019, for every dollar spent on transactional video, four dollars were spent on SVOD.”

Futuresource expects established services Netflix, HBO Nordic and Viaplay to be pushed by Apple TV +, which launched in Q3 2019, and the upcoming Disney+ debut.

On Netflix alone, consumers across Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland spent over half a billion dollars in 2019 and Netflix remains the leading SVOD provider, but it is slowly approaching saturation, as over half of all households across these four Nordics have a subscription.

“We expect SVOD subscriptions and spend to be pushed to a whole new level,” Veale said.

Disney Inks Streaming Deal for Fox Movies in Nordic Region

Disney’s subscription streaming service Disney+ is headed to Europe. But in the meantime, Disney is extending a licensing agreement for select Fox movie and ABC TV content to Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group).

As part of the deal, NENT’s Viaplay streaming service and Viasat pay-tv platform have exclusive region rights to new release movies from 20th Century Studios. Viaplay subscribers also have ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy,” in addition to Fox catalog movies.

The Fox film slate for 2020 includes Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite and Oscar-nominated Jojo Rabbit and Ford v Ferrari, in addition to the most recent instalment in the Terminator franchise.

Fox library titles include Alien, Planet of the Apes, Die Hard and Deadpool, in addition to Pretty Woman and Braveheart.

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“This agreement will extend our relationship with Disney to nearly 20 years and showcases both the popularity of their content with our viewers and the fantastic viewing experiences available on Viaplay and ViaSat,” Filippa Wallestam, NENT Group chief content officer, said in a statement.

NENT is also offering Fox+, an on-demand service with more than 4,000 TV episodes, including “24,” “Prison Break,” and “Futurama.” National Geographic+ features 600 documentary episodes, in addition Fox films and series, “How I Met Your Mother,” “The Simpsons” and “Bones” on its free and pay-TV packages.

NENT is responsible for advertising sales for Fox and Disney channels in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

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“We are delighted to extend and expand our content partnership with NENT Group as we together look to bring Nordic audiences more original stories across more screens from the legendary 20th Century Studios,” said Hans van Rijn, SVP and country manager of The Walt Disney Company Nordic.

NBCUniversal Inks Nordics Streaming, Pay-TV Distribution

NBCUniversal International has signed a distribution deal with Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group) for a wide range of kids and family content. The deal covers NENT Group’s Viaplay streaming service and pay-TV channels.

Viaplay viewers will be the first in the Nordic region to stream DreamWorks Animation series, “Where’s Waldo?,” “Cleopatra in Space,” “Dragons: Defenders of Berk,” in addition to NBC Universal animated series “Curious George,” among others.

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The deal includes DreamWorks Animation movie franchises “Shrek,” “Trolls,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Boss Baby”; Illumination library titles Sing and Despicable Me, in addition to more than 30 ‘Barbie’ films.

In March, NENT Group and NBCUniversal extended their long-term exclusive content partnership, allowing new films from NBCUniversal to reach viewers in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland on Viaplay and Viasat.

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“High-quality kids content is a cornerstone of Viaplay’s unique offering, and this latest agreement with NBC Universal means that our younger viewers can experience even more fantastic entertainment featuring their favorite characters,” Filippa Wallestam, NENT Group chief content officer, said in a statement. “We look forward to bringing the best of Hollywood to audiences of all ages across the Nordic region for years to come.”

Local SVOD Players Challenging Netflix in Nordic Markets

The Nordic markets have among the highest uptake of streaming SVOD services in Europe, but local players are giving Netflix a run for its money, according to new research from Ampere Analysis.

Despite strong demand in the Nordic markets for streaming content, the average market share of Netflix in the region is just 49%. That compares to an average of 71% in the rest of Western Europe.

While smaller individually, local players such as Viaplay, TV2 Play, C More and the regional version of HBO account for the majority of streaming service contracts in the region. In every other Western European market except Germany, Italy and Spain, Netflix claims the majority of SVOD subscriptions.

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Nordic Noir (crime content originating in the Scandinavian countries) is a key export for local content producers, but there are early signs that local streaming players are starting to move beyond the genre, according to Ampere. Analysis of content currently in production or development (but not yet completed or aired) in the region, shows that 47% of all shows are crime or thriller, but streaming players are less focused on the genre than linear channel players. Although the local linear channels and broadcasters have far more shows in development than local streaming players (59 different shows versus 23 from streaming players), an even greater proportion are crime. More than half (52%) of all shows in production for linear channels are crime compared to just 39% for streaming players.

Of shows currently in production or development locally, the next biggest genre for streaming players is comedy (22% of shows in development). Linear players, however, are looking to historical drama for their next big hits (10% of shows in development).

“The Nordic countries are home to the most dynamic streaming TV markets in Europe and local players have had to deal with a rapid transition of TV viewers to streaming services,” said Ampere analyst Elinor Clark in a statement. “Content is now the key battleground and, while Nordic Noir has served the region well, there is indication that local players will now look to develop comedy and period drama as the next big push.”

DEG Europe Forms New Board, Launches Nordic Committee

The Digital Entertainment Group Europe (DEGE) July 30 announced a new board of directors, in addition to implementing a DEG Nordic Committee in association with the British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) to support the growth of the digital entertainment market in that region.

Digital Entertainment Group Europe (DEGE) is the pan-European industry association focused on home entertainment. Members include 20thCentury Fox Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Warner Home Video, HBO Home Entertainment, Lionsgate, Paramount Home Media Distribution, Dolby, TiVo, Sony DADC and Technicolor.

Doug Fox, VP, director of sales at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, and Nicola Pearcey, president of distribution at Lionsgate U.K., are co-chairs of the new board.

Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of sister organisation DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group in the United States, will also be an officer to the revamped DEGE board.

Jonathan Beardsworth, VP, sales and marketing at Technicolor, has stepped down from the DEGE board.

“Warner Bros. has been an active partner of the DEGE for a long time now and we have watched the organisation grow in both stature and output to the point that it now acts as an arbiter of cross-territory impetus and direction,” co-chair Fox said in a statement.

“The DEGE has worked hard to deepen its involvement across territories and to the benefit of our local businesses,” added Pearcey. “The fact that we are now able to welcome Warner Bros. to the top table lends credence to that and is further evidenced by the fact that Amy Jo will also be joining as supporting officer.”

The new DEG Nordic Committee will operate as a hub for the funding and execution of projects designed to drive consumer engagement with digital transactions in a region that boasts some of the most advanced digital infrastructure in the world.

The DEGE will also provide the framework for project development to assist the committee, with confirmed activity to include the development of a local digital sales tracker with research firm GfK and the development and execution of an education-based campaign to promote digital consumption of entertainment titles to consumers.

The committee includes representatives from NBC Universal, Nordisk Film, SF Studios, Fox, Warner Bros. and Disney, with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment participating through its membership to BASE.

Peter Paumgardhen, managing director of Fox Home Entertainment Scandinavia, will chair the committee, with Johan Mannerhill, managing director of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group Scandinavia and Adrian Mandrup, Nordisk Film’s president ofNordic Sales – digital, home entertainment, TV & consumer, jointly acting as deputy chair. Paumgardhen will also take a seat on the DEGE board.

“My colleagues and I have been watching with interest as the DEGE has increasingly and proactively driven the conversation around championing the home entertainment category,” said Paumgardhen. “By ensuring a clarity of collaboration and communication across a range of issues, the organisation has added clear value and so it was a very easy decision to work with the DEGE board to develop and steer the Nordic committee.”