Nordic TV groups focus on originals to take on Netflix

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A report from Ampere Analysis focuses on one of the globe’s most advanced SVoD markets – the Nordics. Since its launch in the region in 2012, Netflix has been the driving force in the OTT market, achieving 4.5 million subscribers by the end of 2018. However, despite boasting a large catalogue of international content at low prices and having made select investments in local titles such as SF Studios’ Red Dot (which will premiere on Netflix in the region), global groups have focused primarily on international content, rather than domestically-produced series. This has led local OTT competitors to develop their own locally produced originals as a differentiating factor.

Content strategies: local vs global

Despite growing subscriber numbers, the Achilles heel of the global SVoD players is their typically more limited line-up of local content. In Sweden only 3 per cent of Netflix titles are local, and it’s less than 1 per cent for Amazon Prime. In comparison, almost half (47 per cent) of the content offered by CMore and 13 per cent of Viaplay’s catalogue is locally produced, and the majority of Nordic content currently in production has been commissioned by local players. Out in front is NENT’s Viaplay as the biggest commissioner of new TV shows in the region, followed by public broadcasters SVT, YLE and DR.

Adapting acquisition strategies

As the Nordic networks focus on commissioning local original content to meet viewer demand, acquisition strategies have evolved. In 2012 (and excluding sports rights expenditure), just under half (49 per cent) of Nordic TV groups’ content spend was dedicated to originals. By 2018 that had risen to 57 per cent. Simultaneously, the investment in acquired TV and film content has dropped, from 51 per cent in 2012 to 43 per cent in 2018 – partly as a result of rising prices as international competitors have moved in, and partly as a result of a strategic refocus. Swedish public broadcaster SVT is a good example of this shift and is now increasingly turning to single pick-ups of American shows (such as The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story) instead of the large volume package deals which used to be standard.

The Nordic 12

This region has a tradition of co-productions. The global success of locally co-produced shows, such as crime series Bron (also known as The Bridge, commissioned by Sweden’s SVT and Denmark’s DR) encouraged the creation of the ‘Nordic 12’ initiative, via which public broadcasters DR, NRK, SVT, YLE and Iceland’s RÚV co-produce content and retain exclusive domestic 12-month linear and digital rights to 12 shows each year. In order to further support their own online video presence, Nordic public broadcasters have started commissioning digital originals, such as Course in Self-Annihilation (SVT) and Nudes (NRK). Ampere’s proprietary Consumer polling indicates a clear demand for catch-up VoD across the region. Ampere Analysis tracks Sweden, where in Q3 2019, 49 per cent of respondents said they had used SVT Play in the past month, and Denmark, where 31 per cent of respondents had used DRTV platform.

NENT ramps up investment

The region’s biggest content commissioner is Viaplay’s parent company NENT. Several of its originals have sold abroad including Veni, Vidi, Vici and Black Lake, and it is now following a global content strategy with the creation of NENT Studios in the US. NENT recently announced it will double its original production output from 20 to 40 originals a year.

Ampere Analysis Analyst Léa Cunat commented: “Across the globe we’re seeing local TV groups trying to take on the power of the global streaming services by capitalising on whichever gaps in the market exist. In the case of the Nordics, that means ramping up investment in originated content, either individually or as part of partnerships like Nordic 12 to win audiences’ loyalty in both local and international markets.”


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