Sports, a strategic asset for Viaplay's expansion plans

Anders Jensen, NENT's President & CEO, recently expressed his confidence in Viaplay's ability to reach its 500K international subscribers target by the end of 2021. After a successful launch in the Baltics and in Poland this year, Viaplay will be looking at riding the expansion wave by entering several new markets over the next few months: the US in the coming weeks, the Netherlands and the UK in 2022, and Canada, Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2023.

Although Viaplay's content offering will be able to rely on a strong portfolio of original series and movies, NENT might keep a look at acquiring key premium sports rights in those markets. Indeed, sports has proven to be a cornerstone in NENT's streaming strategy. If we take the most recent examples, the acquisition of the Bundesliga rights has probably played its part in the encouraging Polish launch. Regarding the Netherlands, NENT now owns the broadcasting rights to Formula One, a significant property in Max Verstappen's home country. Finally, securing the rights to NHL in core ice hockey markets such as the Baltics is part of the same strategy.

On top of the premium aspect of those properties targeted by NENT, the Nordic group has also succeeded in reaching those deals on a much longer term than the traditional three-year cycles. If the different landmark agreements with Premier League and Bundesliga (respectively over six and eight seasons, for almost all of its markets) obviously come at a substantial cost, it guarantees a decent amount of time to properly conquer new markets, a precious luxury in the fast evolving sports media rights landscape.

Apart from sports, Viaplay is also diversifying its streaming service's catalogue in its new markets: in October, the service made a deal with hayu to distribute its reality shows.

dataxis press release about Sports, a strategic asset for Viaplay's expansion plans

In the context of Viaplay’s launch in Poland this September or the Baltics in March, NENT concluded distribution deals with some of the biggest local pay TV operators. In Poland, Viaplay is distributed as a standalone service as well as in packages with Vectra, UPC Polska and Play (P4). In the Baltics, similar deals were concluded with Elisa in Estonia and Tet in Latvia. With its new partners, NENT can expect substantial uplifts in subscribers as they respectively represent 25% of the Polish pay TV market in volume, and 30% of the Baltics. At the end of September, Viaplay cumulated a total of 313 000 subscribers in the 4 markets.

As for its pricing strategy, NENT follows a recipe that proved itself in its native Nordic markets. They position Viaplay as a premium service, in a higher price range than its local competitors. In Poland, Viaplay is available for 34 PLN (7,40€) a month, whereas similar competitors’ offers are mostly between 25 PLN (5,44€) and 29 PLN (6,31€) a month. In the Baltic area, Viaplay's users have to pay 9.99€, which is also way higher than the 7€ market average.

According to Dataxis' forecasts by actor, Viaplay's international subscriber base should reach the 6 million milestone before 2025.

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