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.

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.”

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.

‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ Drive HBO Nordic Sub Growth

Scandinavia (especially Sweden) has long been a hotbed for subscription streaming video. HBO launched its first over-the-top video service — HBO Nordic — long before the domestic rollout of HBO Now in 2014.

HBO Nordic remains a formidable competitor to Netflix and other local SVOD services notably this year thanks to “Game of Thrones” and “Big Little Lies,” among other programming.

New data from Mediavision contends the final season of “Thrones” and second season of “Lies” jumpstarted HBO Nordic subscriber growth to more than 200,000 members in Sweden in the second quarter (ended June 30) — up 50% from the previous-year period.

By comparison, market leader Netflix grew 14% year-over-year.

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Mediavision believes the sub growth can also be attributed to new seasons of “Big Little Lies,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” — the latter available in the U.S. exclusively on Hulu. HBO’s original (created by Comcast-owned Sky) miniseries — “Chernobyl” — also received a strong reception from both Swedish audiences and critics.

As is the trend globally among OTT and traditional media distributors, original content is driving subscriber interest. But it’s not just global services that are increasing their content investments.

In Sweden, both C More and Viaplay have launched new drama series, in addition to extending existing episodic programming. Viaplay’s owner NENT has announced that it intends to launch six new original series in 2019.

Netflix, of course, has taken original content one step further. Its Swedish original series, “Greatest of all,” is produced for Netflix by the Swedish production company FLX — a strategy the SVOD pioneer is emulating in markets worldwide.

“We are moving towards a period where the value of many and strong titles is likely to increase further,” Marie Nilsson, CEO of Mediavision, said in a statement. “The hunt for new customers is also learning to intensify, as major players such as Disney and Apple are ready to enter Sweden, too. This will help drive the streaming market further.”

SVOD Driving Danish Home Entertainment Market

Consumer spending in Denmark’s home entertainment market grew 7% in 2018 to DKK 10.21 billion ($1.53 billion) — driven by over-the-top video, transactional VOD and EST growth, according to new data from Futuresource Consulting.

SVOD (i.e. Netflix) spending grew more than 30% and is expected to DKK 2 billion mark by the end of 2019, accounting for more than 20% of total video entertainment consumer spend.

“Subscriptions grew 25% in 2018 to 2.1 million, with three services gaining 100,000 or more subscribers,” analyst Tanzim Rahman said in a statement. “SVOD consumer spend nearly doubl[ed] between 2016 and 2018 … growing by DKK 852 million. SVOD accounts for the majority of total growth in the entertainment market over the same period, which saw revenue rise by DKK 1.2 billion.”

Futuresource said SVOD in Denmark continues to benefit from a competitive landscape, with an attractive range of services from global players Netflix and HBO to local offerings from Viaplay and TV2 Play, with Netflix leading the market with 39% of subscriptions in 2018.

Streaming services are supported by a strong broadband environment, with average speeds of 39 Mbps and household broadband penetration at 83%.

As a result, Denmark saw a total of 1.2 million households subscribing to at least one SVOD service, leading to household penetration of 46% in 2018 — on par with the Nordic region average, which led European penetration rates in 2018.

Futuresource contends the transactional video market across both digital and physical formats is expected to decline by 2% to DKK 554 million, with the physical market declining DKK 57 million. However, from 2019 the transactional segment is expected to see a return to growth, propelled by a progressive EST sector, which will grow 31% to DDK 163 million.

Transactional digital video growth accelerated in 2018 to 16%, with total spend reaching DKK 349 million, although this is just 20% of the SVOD market.

A solid year of EST growth meant that revenue increased 38% to DKK 124 million, doubling since 2016, and accounted for 35% of the 2018 transactional digital market.

“Growth in EST has been driven by Viaplay and Google Play, although iTunes still dominates the market, taking a 57% share of spend,” Rahman said. “Apple have signed agreements with major TV manufacturers and is expected to consolidate its position over the coming years and help further stimulate the market.”

Transactional VOD continues to grow, but at a slower pace than EST, with spend increasing 18% to DKK 96 million in 2019 — and an average of 16% annually through 2023.