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 www.HBOMax.com. 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.


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.