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Viaplay wins UK rights to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland men’s football matches

Viaplay's new UK streaming service is expected to launch in the second half of 2022

Viaplay’s new UK streaming service has snatched up the rights to at least 40 matches featuring the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish men’s national football teams.

The deal kicks off in 2024 and covers all the teams’ European Qualifiers for the UEFA Euro and FIFA World Cup as well as UEFA Nations League and international friendlies.

Financial terms of the deal have not been revealed.

Viaplay is set to launch its new UK streaming service in the second half of 2022, and has secured the rights to a number of sports, including NHL ice hockey, ISU figure skating and speed skating, World Athletics Continental Tour Gold and World Athletics Indoor Tour.

Speaking about the deal, Anders Jensen, NENT Group president and CEO said: “This is Viaplay’s biggest UK sports milestone so far. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have exciting young teams that millions of fans will be able to follow exclusively on our world-class platform.

“These matches are in good hands – we work closely with UEFA in the Nordic and Baltic regions, and know how much national sides mean to supporters. Viaplay’s multi-territory partnerships with rights holders will be a key advantage as we challenge further in the UK sports market. The timing is also advantageous, with these rights coming on stream in 2024, which allows us time to build our UK brand and to innovate the Viaplay viewing experience even further.”

Jack Genovese from Ampere Analysis tells TVBEurope that while Viaplay is unlikely to become a top competitor for sports rights in the UK, he expects the company to continue to pursue an opportunistic sports rights strategy, aimed at reinforcing its entertainment content offering with affordable sports rights packages. “The premium sports market in the UK is already rather crowded, and the track record of new OTT entrants in the market is mixed,” he said.

“A service like Viaplay, with its diversified content offering and established ownership, has greater chances of succeeding than some of its predecessors. But the risks associated with moving a top-tier property to a nascent subscription OTT service like Viaplay are too big, both in terms of execution and in terms of lower exposure.”

Genovese added that Viaplay is demonstrating a certain level of aggressiveness in the UK – which is in line with their wider approach to sports rights in the context of their European expansion. “Last year, Viaplay launched in Poland, where it acquired the exclusive rights to the Bundesliga, the Premier League, the Europa League, and the Formula 1,” he explained.

“Similarly, in the Netherlands, Viaplay acquired the rights to the Premier League, Formula 1 and Bundesliga, all before even launching in that market. This is of course on top of its consistent sports investment in its domestic markets: NENT is the single largest sports broadcaster in the Nordics, where Ampere estimates it will spend about €560million (£507 million) on sports rights in 2022. We do not expect the level of investment by Viaplay in the UK to be anywhere near that number in the short run.”