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Viaplay, the streaming service owned by Scandinavia’s NENT Group, unveiled plans on Wednesday to roll out in the U.K., Canada and across German-speaking Europe.
Viaplay will launch in the U.K. in the second half of 2022 and then in Canada, Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2023. NENT’s target is to have Viaplay operating in 16 countries by the end of 2023.
Already the leading streaming player in the Scandinavia region, Viaplay launched in Poland as well as across the Baltic region earlier this year. It plans to roll out in the U.S. later this year and in the Netherlands in early 2022. Viaplay’s U.S. service will be initially priced at $4.99 a month and be focused on Nordic drama, mainly content produced in-house. NENT Group CEO Anders Jensen said the company hoped to carve out “a small but interesting slice [of] the largest streaming territory in the world.”
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Jensen said Viaplay had “humble ambitions” for the crowded North American market, but noted the company did not need a large market share to realize profits from its investment. “We are developing our [original] content anyway,” he noted, saying having an American service will also give Viaplay access to production and distribution partners stateside.
NENT Group’s goal is to boost Viaplay’s subscriber base to around 12 million by the end of 2025. Half of that is expected to come from the Nordics, where the company aims to double its subscriber figures to around 6 million, with another 6 million subs coming from its international services.
Under Jensen, NENT Group is doubling down on scripted series as fuel for its Viaplay expansion. Earlier this month, NENT Group reorganized and rebranded its studio operations as Viaplay Studios, bringing together the company’s Swedish fiction production outfits including Brain Academy and Nice Drama, whose credits include crime series Midnight Sun and Max Anger and the Oscar-nominated feature The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. NENT Group recently sold its unscripted production companies to Fremantle and its U.K. distribution business to All3Media.
“Owning production companies is not key to our strategy. Production is a low-margin business,” Jensen told THR. “You will not see us investing more [in acquiring production companies],” he added, noting that the consolidation of its scripted operations was about re-focusing in-house production to develop and deliver series exclusively for Viaplay.
Viaplay has a two-pronged strategy with new territories. In North America, the company plans to focus on original drama, the majority produced in-house. In European territories, the streamer will offer a broader service with a strong focus on live sports. Initially, in major European territories such as Germany and the U.K., Viaplay will not offer sports, but Jensen said the company had ambitions to expand into sports rights in those territories over time.
With Viaplay’s global roll-out, the company hopes to achieve a significant scale for its streaming service, a scale that Jensen says will give it better access to talent.
“The main source of increased production costs at the moment is limited access to talent, to directors, writers, and actors,” he noted. “You have to be of a certain scale to compete [for that talent]. If we just focused on our home market we would suffer.”
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