Viaplay revenues rise but losses deepen, with ad service & password crackdown confirmed

Jorgen Madsen Lindemann

Nordic streamer Viaplay has seen its subscriber number fall compared with 2023 and has confirmed plans for a hybrid ad-supported streaming package later this summer, as it looks to get the business back on an even keel.

The streaming company also said it would initiate a crackdown on account sharing in its Q1 results, which saw a modest uplift in revenue along with a deeper operating loss and a fall in subscribers year-on-year (though up quarter on quarter) following price hikes.

Referring to the challenge of growing content costs, CEO Jørgen Madsen Lindemann said that this had been driven primarily by the growing cost of sports rights and that it was not possible to pass the increase entirely on to subscribers and distribution partners.

The company is instead resorting to sub-licensing rights to balance the books.

In order to further mitigate the increase in content costs and the other challenges faced by the business, Viaplay is resorting to two initiatives already widely deployed by other streamers – ad-supported subscription services a crackdown on credential sharing.

The ad-supported HVOD offering will be launched this summer, Lindemann confirmed.

On the company’s earnings call, he said that the first initiatives in this area had proved successful. “This will play well into our ambition to replace declining linear ad revenue with growing digital ad sales,” he said.

Regarding password sharing, Lindemann said that Viaplay had already taken the initiative of limiting the number of concurrent streams available on live events – such as premium sports – and would follow up with wider credential-sharing measures later in the summer. He said that Viaplay estimated about a third of its current subscriber base engaged in account sharing, which he said deprived the company of a significant portion of its addressable market.

Lindemann said that the limitation on concurrent streams had reduced account sharing of live events by up to 80%, and added that Viaplay would follow the actions taken by peers by taking on account sharing more widely. This would be done by restricting access to services to eligible home devices, he said.

Viaplay has also sought to mitigate content costs that have, according to Lindemann, been rising twice as fast as revenues by implementing price hikes across its core Nordic markets in the range of 11% to 27%, which Lindemann said “reflect the content investments that we’ve been making and the value for money that our products offer”.

A price rise in the Netherlands – the only market outside of the Nordics in which Viaplay is continuing to offer a direct-to-consumer service – from €15.99 to €17.99 is planned for May.

Viaplay reported sales of SEK4.757 billion (US$436 million) for the quarter, up from SEKSEK4.437 billion, with the uplift due to a rise in sublicensing revenues. It posted an operating loss of SEK473 million, compared with an operating loss of SEK325 million for the same period last year.

Subscribers were down 19.5% year on year to 4.85 million, but up slightly from the 4.84 million recorded at year-end.

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