Viaplay strikes $36m deal for Premier Sports, hires DAZN exec to lead UK sport

Edward Breeze

Nordic SVOD Viaplay has struck a £30m (£36m) deal to buy UK streamer Premier Sports and hired a DAZN exec to run its operations in the country.

Viaplay, which today unveiled Edward Breeze as its SVP & head of sports UK, described the acquisition as a “significant acceleration” of its ambitions in the UK, where the streamer is set to launch in the autumn.

Dublin-based Premier Sports was founded in 2009 and is majority-owned by Setanta Sports. Its revenues grew by approximately 33% in 2021 to £26.4m. All 23 full-time employees are expected to join Viaplay after the closing of the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval.

The acquisition hands Viaplay sports rights that include Spanish football from La Liga, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup and Coppa Italia football, as well as United Rugby Championship, Rugby Football League and Top 14 rugby. NASCAR motorsport and the Elite Ice Hockey League are also included.

Premier Sports currently claims 222,000 paying subscribers to its pay-TV channels Premier Sports 1 and Premier Sports 2 and streaming service Premier Player. The company also operates the advertising-funded TV channel FreeSports.

All Premier Sports platforms will receive Viaplay branding and will continue to be available through existing distribution partners. The content line-up available on the TV channels will be expanded to include Viaplay’s broader series and film offering.

DAZN addition

Breeze, who will start in October, is currently EVP of rights at DAZN and has previously worked at Perform, Inform and Octagon. He will become a member of Viaplay Group’s sports leadership team, reporting to Peter Nørrelund, Viaplay Group chief sports officer, and will be based in London.

Sports streamer DAZN has found itself under increasing pressure over the past 12 months and revealed losses of $1.3bn in February. Job losses followed at its UK office earlier this year.

Breeze said: “I’ve been impressed by the way [Viaplay] is successfully launching in new countries, acquiring high-profile sports rights and constantly developing synergies between markets. I like the big ambitions and am looking forward to the adventures and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Anders Jensen, Viaplay Group’s president & CEO, added that the Premier Sports acquisition would “accelerate our development in this key market”.

He continued: “Premier Sports has a loyal and expanding subscriber base, well-established distribution agreements and production capabilities, and a great sports portfolio that complements our own. There is also a big opportunity to make Viaplay’s wider offering, including our award-winning Viaplay Originals, available to Premier Sports’ subscribers.”

Richard Sweeney, Premier Sports CEO, said: “Our sale to Viaplay Group will dramatically increase the content available to new and existing subscribers. This is the start of an exciting new chapter in the development of the business, and is great news for our colleagues, customers and partners.”

As a result of the acquisition, Viaplay will expand its UK offering at launch to two streaming packages: the Films & Series package focused on the ‘best of Nordic storytelling’ with Viaplay Originals and premium third-party content; and the Total package including Viaplay and Premier Sports’ combined sports line-up, alongside Viaplay’s Films & Series offering.

The transaction values Premier Sports at £30m on a cash and debt-free basis.

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