Nordic streaming service Viaplay has announced it is pulling out of the UK, United States and Canada as part of a major downsizing.
In its Q2 2023 report, the company revealed it will be laying off more than 25 per cent of staff, and is considering a potential sale. The redundancies are expected to impact around 450 people.
CEO Jørgen Madsen Lindemann said the company will shift its focus to its core Nordic, Netherlands and Viaplay Select operations.
He added that the company will be looking at a new operational model; downsizing, “rightsizing and pricing its product offering in the Nordics”; and conducting an immediate strategic review of the entire business to consider all options including content sublicensing, asset disposals, equity injections or the sale of the whole Group.
Lindemann took over as Viaplay CEO last month, replacing Anders Jensen. At the time, Viaplay announced it intended to implement a new operating model.
Viaplay entered the UK streaming market in November 2022, with the US following earlier this year. The company acquired streaming rights to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland men’s football matches, with the deal due to begin in 2024. No announcement had been made about what will happen to those rights.
Last summer it acquired fellow sports streamer Premier Sports in a £30 million deal.
Viaplay has been overly ambitious in its quest to take on the global streamers, analyst Paolo Pescatore tells TVBEurope. “It is clearly apparent that success is not guaranteed and making the transition is no easy feat,” he adds.
“While competition seems to be healthy, the battle for rights and subscribers is leading to a hugely fragmented landscape in sports,” Pescatore adds. “Undoubtedly, DAZN will be watching closely and it may be an opportune moment to further grow its presence in the UK (given its failed move for the now TNT Sports JV), as well as TNT Sports itself.”
Pescatore believes Viaplay is not alone in taking a gamble which would take many years to come to fruition. “The downturn in advertising hasn’t helped either which has negatively impacted other companies. All companies are now preparing for the worse,” he says. “There is a huge focus on cutting costs and driving greater efficiencies to improve margins for the year ahead. Expect more bumps ahead.”