Pluto TV Launches AVOD Service in the Nordics

Paramount Global’s free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) and ad-supported VOD (AVOD) platform, Pluto TV, May 18 expanded to the Nordics, launching in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The service unveiled a programming line-up that features more than 70 unique and locally curated channels now live in each country.

For the first time internationally, Pluto TV will offer live sports. Bellator MMA, the leading global MMA organization, will have a dedicated channel streaming all 2022 fights exclusively in the Nordics, with many fights streaming live, in addition to bonus content and library, beginning June 24 with “Bellator 282,” featuring Dutch Middleweight World Champion Gegard Mousasi taking on undefeated No. 1 ranked contender Johnny Eblen.

Paramount’s AVOD service is launching in the Nordics through a partnership with Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group). Pluto TV will launch in combination with NENT’s AVOD service, Viafree. Following the launch, Viafree will be phased out as a standalone service.

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Pluto TV founder Tom Ryan

“Pluto TV launched with a mission to entertain the planet, and today’s highly-anticipated launch in the Nordics brings us another step closer to achieving our goal,” Tom Ryan, CEO of Paramount Streaming and founder of Pluto TV. “The union of Pluto TV and Viafree delivers the best of both worlds, debuting a frictionless and free streaming destination with something for everyone.”

Pluto TV in the Nordics features an abundance of programming, including globally recognized titles from content partners, fan favorite and exclusive titles from Paramount’s brands, as well as extensive hours of local hits from Viafree.

The content includes: Lyxfällan/Luksusfellen/Luksusfælden (“Luxury Trap”), in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Swedish audiences can enjoy Svenska Truckers (“Swedish Truckers”) and Svenska Hollywoodfruar (“Swedish Hollywood Wives”); Danish fans can enjoy channels such as: Familien fra Bryggen (“The Kesslers”) and MasterChef — Danmarks Største Madtalenter (“MasterChef”); while Norwegian audiences can stream channels such as Eventyrlig Oppussing (“Amazing Makeovers”) and celebrity cooking show Camp Kulinaris (“Camp Kulinaris”). 

In both Denmark and Norway, audiences can stream a channel featuring the reality show “Paradise,” which will become available later this month, with new episodes released weekly, following the show’s premiere on Viaplay.

Pluto TV has also partnered with World RX to offer all 2022 live events and library races from the FIA World Rallycross Championship through the RX TV channel, available in Denmark and Norway from July 1. World RX at Höljes, Sweden, on July 2-3, will be the first live event on the 24/7 rallycross channel.

In partnership with MTV, internationally known Swedish band Mando Diao May 18 will record an MTV Unplugged performance in Stockholm. The performance will premiere exclusively on Pluto TV’s MTV Unplugged in October.   

Pluto TV will also launch with a dedicated “Star Trek” channel featuring the Star Trek franchise hits, such as “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager,” among others.

Pluto TV Movies features fan-favorite titles including the sci-fi classic and Oscar nominated Dune by director David Lynch; comedy movie Dinner for Schmucks with Paul Rudd and Steve Carell; and actioner Red Dawn with Chris Hemsworth.

The platform will feature classic crime shows such as “FBI Files,” “New Detectives” and “Cops,” as well as new series “True Nordic Crimes.”

From the MTV library, Pluto TV will offer dedicated channels featuring “The Hills,” “Catfish: The TV Show” and “Ex on The Beach,” among others. Comedy Central hits shows include a dedicated 24/7 “South Park” channel along with the return of “The Daily Show,” with episodes released day-and-date with the U.S. release.

“This transformative partnership will serve as the framework as we continue to expand Pluto TV throughout Europe and in new continents, including Australia and Africa, bringing this strategic model of free streaming to the world,” said Raffaele Annecchino, CEO of international networks, studios and streaming at Paramount.

Pluto TV to Launch AVOD/FAST Service in the Nordics on May 18

Paramount Global’s free ad-supported streaming television platform, Pluto TV, is set to launch in Sweden, Norway and Denmark on May 18. First announced last November, the platform will offer more than 200 curated channels, in addition to Viafree, NENT Group’s free on-demand linear channels, which are also available in Finland. NENT is handling all ad sales for Pluto TV in the region.

“I’m confident that Pluto TV will capture the attention of the Nordics markets and consumers, quickly becoming a new destination both for fans of curated content as well as for clients and partners interested in investing in a new and unique streaming service,” Olivier Jollet, GM and SVP for Pluto TV International, said in a statement.

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Paramount catalog content streaming on Pluto includes “Catfish: The TV Show,” “South Park” and “Dora the Explorer,” in addition to select movies. Viafree series include “Frozen Roads,” “MasterChef DK” and “Amazing Makeovers,” among others. 

“Viewers will be able to enjoy popular Viafree formats … while we are able to offer advertisers an attractive proposition as the platform’s advertising sales partner in the region,” added Lars Mossing, SVP of ad sales for NENT Group.

Pluto TV ended 2021 with more than 52 million average monthly viewers.

Nordic SVOD Viaplay Launching Dec. 15 in the U.S. on Comcast’s Xfinity Platform

Viaplay, the Nordic-based subscription streaming video service, will bow U.S. operations on Dec. 15 when it is made available on Comcast’s Xfinity platform as a $4.99 monthly add-on. A standalone Viaplay app is not yet available in the United States.

Owned and operated by media giant NENT Group, Viaplay is currently available in nine countries, with plans to add six more in 2023, in addition to the March 1, 2022, bow in Holland, and in the U.K. during the second half of next year.

Viaplay is launching the U.S. with 1,100 hours of content ranging from Nordic TV series and movies. The service will bow at least one premiere weekly, with Viaplay aiming to release at least 60 originals in 2022. A range of documentary series will also be available at launch. All Viaplay content in the U.S. will have English subtitles.

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“Our small corner of Europe produces some of the world’s most compelling stories,” NENT Group CEO Jensen said in a statement, adding that Hollywood stars like Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander have helped put the Nordic region on the map.

“There is a receptive audience of Nordic drama fans waiting in the U.S. for Viaplay’s unique offering,” he said.

Sweden Ups SVOD Sub Base by 350,000 — Thanks to Disney+

New data from research firm Mediavision contends Sweden added 350,000 SVOD subscribers in the past 12 months — driven in large part (50%) by the global expansion of Disney+.

Sweden, along with the rest of the Nordics, has always been a hotbed for subscription streaming video — particularly Netflix. 

Indeed, Sweden, with a population of 10 million, generated the equivalent of a third of Netflix’s 950,000 North American (pop. 596 million) net sub additions over the past 12 months.

Netflix remains the most popular service in Swedish households, followed by Viaplay and Disney+. Netflix dominates in households that only subscribe to one service, but combinations of Netflix, Viaplay and Disney+ are the most common among households with multiple subscriptions.

The data suggests that in Sweden there remains a strong demand for new and attractive SVOD services, despite household penetration remaining stable. It is still possible to successfully establish a new SVOD brand in Sweden as households stack services.

“A contributing factor to [SVOD sub growth] could be that new services often launch at a highly competitive price,” Marie Nilsson, CEO of Mediavision, said in a statement. The executive believes households simply add SVOD services without terminating existing platforms.

“Recently, we have seen this pricing strategy also being applied at the launch of HBO Max,” she said. “There is reason to believe that aggressive price strategies will push stacking in the streaming households even further.”

HBO Max Launches Service in The Nordics, Spain — at Half Price

WarnerMedia’s branded subscription streaming service HBO Max officially launched service today (Oct. 26) in the Nordics (Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland) and Spain. The debut is part of a 27-territory rollout in Europe through 2022.

As part of the rollout, all new subscribers through Nov. 30 will get 50% off the standard monthly price for the lifetime of their subscription. In Spain and Finland, for example, this means new subs pay €4.49 ($5.21) a month. This is in addition to the already announced annual subscription, which cuts the standard monthly fee 30% to $7.35.

HBO and HBO Max ended the most-recent fiscal period with almost 70 million global subs.

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Max Originals coming to HBO Max in Europe in the run up until Christmas include the reboot of “Gossip Girl,” the next chapter of “Sex in the City” with “And Just Like That …,” and Mindy Kaling’s “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” New European productions include the award-winning Danish drama “Kamikaze,” the second season of Norwegian hit “Beforeigners,” and the return of Juan Carrasco in “Venga Juan” and “Dafne and the Rest.”

Top movies coming to Max in the Nordics on launch day include Reminiscence, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat. Warner Bros. movies premiere on Max 45 days after their theatrical release starting this year in the Nordics and next year in Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Greece, Iceland and Central and Eastern Europe, including the Baltic nations.

“With the launch in Europe today, Max is now available in 46 territories globally,” Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International, said in a statement. “This is an important milestone as we continue to deliver on our ambition to roll out Max around the world with more territories to come in Europe and Asia next year.”

Max will be available to watch on leading devices and platforms, including smart-TVs (Samsung, LG and Android TV), via streaming devices (Apple TV 4K and Google Chromecast), game consoles (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S) mobile and tablets (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android), and online at HBO Max will also be available through selected TV distribution partners. Customers will be able to pay via major providers (Visa, Mastercard and PayPal) and via in-app purchase (Apple App Store and Google Play Store).

HBO Max offers up to five viewer profiles, three concurrent streams and no limit on devices per subscription. Select titles are available in 4K, 5.1 Sound and Dolby Atmos.

Nordics a Growing SVOD Market, Despite Saturation

After the U.S. and Canada, Scandinavian countries account for the most-developed when it comes to consumer adoption of over-the-top video services. That said, new data from eMarketer suggests the region remains primed for growth.

In Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, household penetration of streaming video services tops 78%, compared with 66% across Western Europe. That said, Finland will see the largest market increase in 2021, at 7.4% year-over-year, while Sweden and Norway will approach 6% growth, and Denmark, 5% growth.

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“We expect the Nordic subscription OTT market to become even more competitive,” Brian Lau, associate forecasting analyst, said in a statement. “Established players like Netflix and Amazon are ramping up their investment in local content. Meanwhile, newer services from the U.S. and the rest of Europe, such as Disney+, HBO Max and Sky Showtime, have recently entered the picture or are preparing to do so.”

Indeed, Netflix in April announced it would open a production hub in Sweden, while Amazon jumpstarted Prime Video service in the region with the introduction of local original content. Meanwhile, Nordic Entertainment Group has reported strong paid subscriber growth for its Viaplay streaming platform.

“As competition for viewers heats up, we expect steady growth in subscription OTT service users over the coming years,” Lau wrote. “In 2022, across all the Nordic countries we track, more than three in five Internet users will watch content on those services each month. By the end of our forecast period in 2025, this will be the case for more than two-thirds of the region’s Internet users.”

Nordic SVOD Platform Viaplay Adding Five Countries — After U.S. Launch

Nordic Entertainment Group has big plans to take on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+. The Scandinavian-based SVOD operator announced it is expanding its streaming service to five countries in 2023, with a goal of topping 12 million subscribers by 2025.

Viaplay, which is currently available in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, previously announced it would launch service later this year in the United States and Holland.

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The platform’s content offering in the five new markets will include Nordic, local and international TV series, movies, documentaries and kids content, both original and acquired, in addition to live sports in select European territories.

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“We have stepped up the pace and scale of Viaplay’s international expansion,” CEO Anders Jensen said in a statement. “We have acquired virtually all of the international sports rights that we targeted, and for multiple cycles in several cases; added one more market to our roll-out ambition; signed innovative partnership agreements; and raised the bar when it comes to our investments in original content.”

Anders Jensen

Jensen contends that despite the presence of Netflix and other streamers throughout Europe, Germany’s SVOD penetration among its 42 million households is expected to grow to more than 50% by 2025, with more than two SVOD subscriptions per SVOD household. He believes 77% of the U.K.’s 28 million households have SVOD subscriptions, and the number of subscriptions per SVOD household is also expected to exceed two in the coming years.

Trends the executive said also include majorities among Canada’s 15 million households, in addition to Switzerland and Austria’s 8 million combined households.

“As a result, we are increasing our subscriber and revenue growth targets, as well as our target profitability levels,” Jensen said. “We are investing in this growth right now, in order to capitalize on the opportunity created as the shift to streaming video consumption continues to accelerate, and demand for high quality and locally relevant stories increases.”

DEG Launching First Nordics Home Entertainment Weekly Sales Chart

The Digital Entertainment Group International, sister organization to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group in the U.S., is launching a weekly home entertainment sales chart in the Nordics, dubbed “The Hitlist.”

Inspired by the success of the Official Film Chart in the U.K., which launched in December 2018, The Hitlist will chart the best-selling movies of the week each Wednesday, supported by a video countdown of the Top 10 titles. The Hitlist will receive a full weekly media sell- in across all four territories — Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland — covering a wide range of film entertainment websites and local media.

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The Hitlist chart counts digital movie purchases and rentals across a seven-day period from services, including the Apple TV App, Altibox (Norway only), Blockbuster, SF Anytime and Viaplay, with support from every major movie studio in the region, including NBCUniversal, Nordisk Film, SF Studios, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Johan Mannerhill, DEGN Chair and managing director Nordic at Warner Bros. Entertainment, said the initiative would highlight the “huge consumer benefits” of digital transactions, including content catalogs available, and the ease and flexibility of transactions.

“I am confident that a weekly video chart will inspire more consumers to discover and join this growing area of the market,” Mannerhill said in a statement. “The creation of The Hitlist is a fantastic collective effort and opportunity to grow the digital market by celebrating the biggest sales success stories each week.”

As well as providing distributors new ways to drive engagement weekly with both consumers and digital platforms around new releases, the chart offers distributors the opportunity to spotlight successful catalog and seasonal content, inform future cross-industry success.

Consumers across all four regions of the Nordics are engaging more in digital movie transactions as many cinemas in the region remain closed due to the pandemic.

Potential chart-toppers for the first “Hitlist” include Godzilla vs. Kong, A Quiet Place Part II, Peter Rabbit 2, Tom & Jerry and Space Jam: A New Legacy, as well as future local hits The Riders of Justice and the North Sea.

“A weekly film chart provides a powerful positive news story, helping drive consumer engagement with home entertainment headlines,” said Liz Bales, CEO of DEGI. “It is a source of pride that the U.K.’s Official Film Chart is now being used as a best-in-class example for international iterations, highlighting its winning format. To create a multiple chart across four territories is an incredible achievement and great work from all the teams involved.”

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.