Netflix to Open Office in Sweden

In the second half of this year, Netflix will open a Nordic office in Stockholm, Sweden, that will function as a hub for the region, according to a company blog. There will also be a small team of Netflix employees based in a satellite office in Copenhagen.

“Netflix has always felt at home in the Nordics,” wrote Lina Brouneus, director of acquisitions and co-productions for EMEA. “It was one of the first places outside of the U.S. where we started making local original shows, and over the past nine years we’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most brilliant creative talent in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland.”

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By the end of this year, nearly 70 original titles coming from the Nordics will be available on Netflix, she wrote. The company has 4 million-plus members across the region, and almost two-thirds of members globally have chosen to watch a Nordic original film or series, she added.

“Today’s news is part of our growing commitment to the production of original local content all over Europe,” she wrote. “With offices in Amsterdam, Madrid, Berlin, London, Paris and Brussels, and with Rome and Istanbul opening later this year, our Nordic hub will allow us to strengthen our many creative and cultural partnerships across Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland, to work on a growing offer of series and films throughout the region, and to bring even more diverse local stories to life for our members around the world to enjoy.”

Nordics productions on Netflix include Swedish series “Quicksand,” “Love & Anarchy” and “Snabba Cash”; Norwegian series“Ragnarok” and “Home for Christmas”; three seasons of “The Rain” and the newly-announced series “The Chestnut Man” in Denmark; and later this year “Katla,” the psychological sci-fi series from Iceland. Last year Netflix released Cadaver, the first Netflix film from the region, with more films coming to the service soon, including Dancing Queens, Vinterviken, Against the Ice, Troll and Black Crab.

Netflix Expected to Add 200K Q1 Subs in Nordics, Leads Region With 4.4 Million Households

Netflix is projecting 6 million new subscribers globally in the first quarter (ended March 31). New data from research group Mediavision contends the streamer added 200,000 subs in the Nordics, which includes, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Netflix’s Q1 subscriber figures for the Nordic market show a year-on-year growth of 5%. According to Mediavision analysis, Netflix now has approximately 4.4 million households in the Nordics, tops for the region. Hence, the company’s growth is lower than the overall Nordic SVOD market growth, which is up about 8% year-on-year.

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The Nordic countries are all highly digitalized, partly driven by streaming services such as Netflix. The SVOD market penetration in Q1 as a Nordic average is approximately 60%. With the arrival of Disney+, and pending launches of HBO Max and Paramount+, Mediavision analysis suggests that Netflix, albeit still the single largest SVOD service, is no longer the frontrunner in terms of growth.

Netflix reports Q1 results April 20 at the market’s close.

 

Ampere: Nordics Fertile Market for U.S. Streaming Video

A diverse range of content interests among consumers translates into the Nordics offering strong growth opportunities for upstart U.S. studio-led subscription video streamers, including BritBox, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

Scandinavia, which includes Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark, shows strong interest in both local and international content, a trait which, when coupled with the region being one of the most advanced OTT markets in the world, means consumers are up for adding SVOD platforms — despite Scandinavia having an average of 2.4 services per household and 14.7 million combined subscribers.

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Local streamers have captured large audiences, with Viaplay being the largest local player in terms of subscriptions across all four Nordic countries in 2020. While Netflix is still the largest single SVOD player, securing 32% of the OTT market by the first half of 2020, this is still lower than Netflix’s average market share in the rest of Western Europe. Disney+ had 700,000 subscribers by the end of 2020.

Ampere found that in a scenario where all pay-TV revenue is converted to OTT, the average household would be able to subscribe to four services in Norway and Denmark, and three services in Sweden and Finland.

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“As a region where there is demand for both English language and local content, the Nordics is an attractive market for new international players to launch there while allowing local players to co-exist,” analyst Maria Dunleavey said in a statement. “Our research has found Nordics households are not yet at SVOD capacity, but as new market entrants like Paramount+ edge closer to launch, the quality of content will prove key to capturing the interest — and wallets — of Nordic consumers.”

Ampere believes the Nordics could be a region of interest for BritBox and other international players as they push ahead with international expansion. BritBox’s classic English language content is well-suited to the local audience which rates British series highly. Ampere’s Consumer media and entertainment tracker in Q3 2020 found that 21% of respondents in the Nordics watch British TV series often, compared to 14% across all markets. The Nordics also over-index for viewing American content, with 37% of respondents watching U.S. TV series frequently, compared to an average of 31% across all countries. While quality of local content still remains essential, this unusually high interest in British and U.S. series means studio-led new entrants should find favor in the region, according to Ampere.

Nordic SVOD Service ‘Viaplay’ Launching in the U.S.; Helping Lionsgate’s Starzplay Bow in the Nordics

The Nordics have long been a testing ground for U.S. streaming video services such as Netflix, HBO Nordics and Disney+. Now, Viaplay, an SVOD platform from Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group) is looking to launch in the U.S. in 2021.

Viaplay is seeking to launch in 10 international markets by the end of 2023, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland next year. By the end of 2025, NENT Group is looking to increase its subscriber base to approximately 10.5 million by more than doubling its Viaplay sub base in the Nordics to approximately 6 million, and growing its international subscriber base to approximately 4.5 million.

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Viaplay will bow late next year in the U.S. as a tailored service offering high-quality Nordic drama series.

“Viaplay is a proven Nordic success story and we are now ready to expand internationally and become the European streaming champion,” Anders Jensen, CEO of NENT Group, said in a statement.

Jensen said NENT has one of the world’s most flexible and scalable technology platforms, with a goal to be the most diverse and inclusive storyteller with an “amazing” range of original, acquired, local and live content.

“We have already signed up key content rights in our target markets, and are in discussions with distributors about new partnerships to ensure that Viaplay is available everywhere,” he said.

Separately, beginning next month, a selection of Starzplay series will be available to Viaplay viewers across the Nordic region, with the full Starzplay service to be offered through Viaplay to all subscribers at a later date. Starzplay is an international subsidiary of Lionsgate.

Starzplay content coming to Viaplay this year includes the second chapter in the “Power” TV franchise, “Power Book II: Ghost,” starring Mary J. Blige; and international series such as the Starz Original series “Power,” “The Spanish Princess,” “The Girlfriend Experience” and “Black Sails,” along with the Golden Globe-winning “Ramy.”

“This partnership with a leader who has demonstrated continued innovation in the industry, creates an exciting opportunity for the expansion of Starzplay into new territories … [and] allows us to continue our quest to offer the best of global SVOD to viewers around the world,” Superna Kalle, EVP of international digital networks for Starz.

Sony Pictures Inks Nordics DVD/Blu-ray Disc Distribution Deal With SF Studios

SF Studios, a distribution and production company in the Nordics, Nov. 4 announced the signing of a new home entertainment distribution deal for DVD and Blu-ray Disc with Sony Pictures Entertainment, effective Jan. 11, 2021. The new deal covers feature films and TV series in the Nordic and the Baltic markets.

The agreement covers upcoming Sony Pictures titles such as Ghostbusters: AfterlifePeter Rabbit 2Uncharted, the Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters movies Morbius and Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage, and a third MCU “Spider-Man” film with Tom Holland as the superhero. Other Sony catalog titles include: Once Upon a Time in HollywoodBlade RunnerAngry BirdsMoneyballMen in Black, “Outlander” and “The Crown,” among many other new and library titles and TV series.

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“We are incredibly happy and proud to have entered this agreement with Sony Pictures Entertainment,” Martin Brandtler, Nordic head of home entertainment distribution at SF Studios, said in a statement. “We are very excited to be working with the Sony team and thrilled to be able to share Sony’s exciting content with consumers in the Nordics and the Baltics.”

This summer, SF Studios announced a new deal with Warner Bros. covering distribution of physical home entertainment products. The new deal with Sony Pictures is another step in this direction. SF Studios and SPE have an existing relationship for theatrical distribution in the Nordics, which includes Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

“With the existing theatrical distribution arrangement between SF Studios and SPE in place, this is a natural next step between our two companies and is a great partnership to bring our feature and television titles, both current and future hits as well as the power of our library, to the Nordic and Baltic market,” said Louise Emblem, VP of distribution and networks for Nordics and Benelux at Sony Pictures. 

Established in 1919, SF Studios has headquarters in Stockholm and offices in Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki and London. The company is producing and distributing feature films and TV series as well as providing digital services SF Anytime and SF Kids. SF Studios is part of Nordic media company Bonnier.

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.”