Exclusive: Viaplay’s Vanda Rapti on North American strategy, subscriber goals & Nordic noir


Viaplay’s Vanda Rapti talks to Mark Layton about subscriber goals, its North American commissioning strategy and taking a ‘specialised position’ following the expansion of its streamer into the US and Canada.

Nordic streamer Viaplay has been steadily growing its global reach over the past few years, but it is the recent direct-to-consumer launch in the US & Canada that has forged a path out of Europe and the Baltics for the SVOD and into its biggest territories yet in terms of potential subscriber base.

While there are opportunities for major expansion to be grasped, these are heavily saturated markets, with a whole cornucopia of embedded streamers vying for subscribers’ attention.

However, Vanda Rapti, Viaplay Group’s chief commercial officer, North America & Viaplay Select, tells TBI that what Viaplay can offer – and the competition cannot – is a huge catalogue of Nordic content that the Stockholm-headquartered company is confident is in high demand.

Rapti explains that Viaplay is going after this dedicated core audience, with North American demand for this content creating “a specialised position” that Viaplay can take. “We’re not aiming to be the number one broad service as in our main European markets; reaching this core audience is already a significant opportunity,” she says.

In this way, Viaplay aims to play to its strengths. “There is something about the Nordic style of storytelling that travels very well – it’s authentic, different and edgy. Many of our shows feature Nordic stars who have also made a name in Hollywood,” says Rapti.

She adds that a “competitive” pricepoint of $5.99 per month provides access to more than 1,500 hours of content at launch for fans who are coming to Viaplay for more of what they want, including series such as Danish crime drama Trom, Norwegian thriller Furia and Swedish drama Threesome.

Vanda Rapti

‘Nordic noir is just the beginning’

Viaplay launched in Canada earlier this month and went D2C in the US on 22 February, with the streamer pushing Nordic noir as one of the unique selling points to drive new subscribers to the service.

“The traditional Nordic noir crime show is well-known to many viewers, but we see Nordic noir more as a very recognisable style that spans genres – everything from drama, crime and thrillers, historical and biopic features, series and documentaries, to edgy coming of age young adult shows.

“In other words, it refers to a broad range of brutally good storytelling that makes it clear why we say: ‘Nordic noir is just the beginning’”.

While Viaplay’s “top priority” in the US and Canada is to be the go-to home of Nordic storytelling, Rapti notes that the service is already commissioning and pre-buying US and English-language originals for its European markets, often, but not always, with a Nordic anchor.

These include acquisitions such as Epix’s Billy The Kid and ITV’s Litvinenko, as well as original commissions like Cell 8 and The Box, which feature English-speaking actors such as Anna Friel and Peter Stormare, are mostly in English, and take place in the US – even if they are not filmed there.

She tells TBI that Viaplay isn’t looking to compete with US or global players for US content, but says these original commissions will continue and “if a strong new show with US links makes sense for our European markets, it is possible that we will also keep rights for the US and Canada.”

As far as expansion opportunities go following this push into North America, at the end of Q4 2022, Viaplay’s global subscriber base stood at 7.3 million, with 4.6 million of those in the Nordic countries and 2.7 million from outside territories.

Rapti says that Viaplay’s goal is to end 2023 at around 9 million, with expectations of around 5 million from the Nordics and 4 million subscribers from outside territories, which now includes D2C services in the US and Canada.

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