To say this has been an eventful year for the streaming company Viaplay is certainly an understatement.
It began in an upbeat fashion with the launch of Viasat Select in Canada and Austria in January, in the latter case on Canal+, followed by the D2C service Viaplay in the US a month later. First quarter results, reported in April, were largely positive, with the group’s paying subscriber total increasing by 325,000 in the first three months of 2023. In the year to March 31, they rose by no less than 60%.
There was nevertheless a strong warning sign, and indeed one that pointed to the troubles that lay ahead. Having posted a net profit of SEK483 million (€40.4 million) in Q1 2022, the company recorded a net loss of SEK288 million in the first quarter of this year.
Come June, the scale of the problems facing Viaplay were laid bare, with its CEO Anders Jensen resigning and the group downgrading its outlook for 2023. The Q2 results that followed made for grim reading, with the net loss rocketing to SEK5,886 million and company signalling that it would shed up to 25% of its workforce and exit most international markets, including the US, UK and Central and Eastern Europe (Poland and the Baltics) to focus on core Nordic, Dutch and Viaplay Select operations.
However, at the same time it was announced that Canal+ had acquired a 12% stake in Viaplay for an undisclosed fee. This was followed by the Czech Republic’s PPF Group buying a 6.3% stake in August and, on September 14, the Norwegian media group Schibsted a 10.1% stake. Canal+ now finds itself the largest shareholder and will no doubt have a major say in charting a new course for Viaplay. Although PPF Group’s and Schibsted’s investments are largely seen as financial, the latter has already said that “Viaplay’s strong position as a streaming provider in the Nordics fits very well with our media operations”.
Looking to the future, one feels this could well be a new beginning for Viaplay. With strong new backers, it may even decide to remain and indeed expand in some of the markets it currently plans to leave.
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