The Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT) has reported that Viaplay subscribers were up 310,000 in Q4 2019 on the same period a year ago. Viaplay now represents 62 per cent of the Group’s total subscriber base
The group saw sales of SEK 4.16 billion (€391.9m) with 4 per cent organic growth. Operating income for combined business segments hit SEK 593 million.
President & CEO Anders Jensen commented: “Q4 was a strong finish to a successful first year as listed company. We have delivered on our profitable growth commitment in 2019 with 6 per cent organic sales growth and 6 per cent profit growth for our operating businesses, while growing our Viaplay subscriber base by over 25 per cent. Scaling Viaplay remains our top priority simply because it’s the best way to drive sustainable long term value. We have continued to innovate and transform, and remain well positioned to benefit from the shift to on-demand and online video consumption.
2019 was a record breaking first year for NENT Group as a standalone business, with strong financial performances by both of our business segments. The momentum continued into Q4 with sales growing 4 per cent on an organic basis and driven primarily by Viaplay. Broadcasting & Streaming delivered continued profitable growth, and the combined profits for our business segments also increased despite ongoing content investments, USD headwinds and falling linear viewing.
We have now implemented our new organisation and operating model, which will enable us to make decisions faster, ensure better strategic alignment, scale flexibly and efficiently, while also generating significant savings. We also announced the proposed 50/50 joint venture between Viasat Consumer and Canal Digital, which is expected to yield substantial synergies and further increase our focus on Viaplay, including the first geographical expansion this year when we launch Viaplay in Iceland later this spring. Our recently announced strategic review of our studios businesses is yet another example of our never-ending quest to optimise our operations to support our streaming ambitions.
The Viaplay subscriber intake is our single most important KPI, as this is where consumers are spending more and more of their time and money. We added 110k Viaplay subscribers compared to Q3 and the base has grown by 310k, or 25 per cent, since the beginning of 2019. Our growth has accelerated and we have gained market share, despite fierce competition. Viaplay is a content champion, offering a unique combination of the broadest and most relevant content, as well as clear category leadership in sports, Nordic originals and films. This is combined with a world-class technology platform that is constantly evolving to enhance the customer experience.
We have continued to invest in our future. We premiered 21 high quality Viaplay Originals in 2019 and will premiere more than 30 in 2020. The majority of these are locally relevant Nordic shows, which are very popular and provide a clear differentiator to rival international services. We have signed a number of new or extended exclusive sports rights agreements. Sports rights are in high demand and we are very conscious not to accept any inflation that would harm our ability to grow profitably. We have improved our kids offering through new deals with NBCUniversal and SF Studios, and signed a new long term agreement with Sony. And our sourcing of original international content will be fueled by our investments in FilmNation UK and PictureStart.
Looking ahead, we have built a very strong foundation to capture the opportunity we see in the streaming world, while also delivering on our profitable growth commitment. 2020 will be another eventful year, in which we will focus on further scaling Viaplay, continue to invest in our content, technology and people, and support this with our relentless search for efficiencies.”