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Viaplay paying subs up 83% YoY

February 14, 2023

Viaplay has reported paying subscribers are up 83 per cent YoY to 7,318,000 with 890,000 subscribers added in the last quarter as the streaming service continues its international roll out.

Viaplay Group posted an adjusted quarterly operating loss of SEK 294 million (€26 million), compared with a profit of 69 million crowns a year earlier, including a SEK 420 million hit from international expansion. Shares of the company were down 6 per cent.

In a lengthy statement Anders Jensen, President & CEO, said: “We ended the year in excellent shape and on track towards our five-year strategic goals. We have delivered in line with our updated guidance for 2022, growing our Viaplay subscriber base to over 7.3 million, and our total sales to SEK 15.7 billion for the year. Despite fierce competition, we continue to grow or maintain our subscriber market shares in all markets. Viaplay is now available in 11 markets, and we will shortly launch direct-to-consumer in the US and Canada. Our content is also available in 20 other markets through our curated Viaplay Select offering. We have achieved these goals in challenging market conditions, and again demonstrated the resilience and sustainability of our products, our people and our business. We have a stronger content line-up than ever before and have invested further in our technology platform to deliver even better customer experiences. We have also extended our distribution partnerships to ensure that Viaplay is as widely available as possible. We are well prepared for what lies ahead and to make further progress towards our goals.

Our 20 per cent group organic sales growth and 10 per cent Nordic organic sales growth for the full year were in line with the updated guidance that we provided in November. The primary growth driver was Viaplay (48 per cent of group sales), with organic revenues up 73 per cent YoY in Q4 and up 52 per cent for the full year.

The 83 per cent YoY growth in the Viaplay subscriber base in Q4 was driven by both our Nordic and international markets, which reached their combined year-end target and added 890k subscribers in the quarter. The previously discontinued partnership in Sweden was renewed on improved terms, and we now have partnerships with the largest pay-TV operators in almost all our markets. These win/win strategic partnerships continue to be cornerstones of our growth. Churn levels increased moderately in Q4 due to the suspension of football leagues during the World Cup, and then returned to lower levels as the subscribers returned.

Our Viaplay Nordic revenues were up 33 per cent YoY on an organic basis, while our Viaplay international revenues accounted for 28 per cent of total Viaplay revenues, compared to 4 per cent in Q4 2021. We have already adjusted our price points upwards in the Nordic markets to reflect our even stronger content offering and rising inflation. We premiered a total of 126 scripted and non-scripted Viaplay originals in 2022 and will premiere more than 130 in 2023. And we will add Formula One coverage in Poland from the start of the new season in March.

We launched Viaplay in the UK during Q4, thirty-five years after we started broadcasting our channels into the Nordics from London. Our streaming service and channels are now available direct to consumer and through pay-tv partners, with a combination of live sports and Nordic drama. We will add locally produced Viaplay originals, and more third-party content to the platform as we establish ourselves in one of the world’s largest and most content hungry markets.

Our Linear subscription and other revenues (29 per cent of group sales) were up 7 per cent YoY on an organic basis. This reflected the new distribution deals and rising prices, which will continue to drive growth in 2023.

Our advertising revenues (23 per cent of group sales) were down 9 per cent YoY on an organic basis. This reflected the decline in each of the Scandinavian advertising markets, and the football world cup coverage on competing platforms. We expect this trend of lower advertising spend to continue for at least the first half of 2023. Advertising prices are being raised again in the annual negotiations, in order to offset lower linear viewing levels and reflect the broader inflationary environment.

Our Q4 Nordic profits were in line with the updated guidance that we provided in November. The YoY decline in Q4 profits reflected the weaker advertising markets, higher sports rights costs yet to be offset by higher prices, and the temporary discontinuation of a distribution agreement in Sweden. Timing of price increases and the phasing of content costs are expected to result in lower margins for the first half of 2023, and then higher margins and a YoY increase in full year Nordic profits. As previously announced, we are implementing cost savings and avoidance programmes to offset the currency exchange and economic headwinds that we currently anticipate. These measures are in line with our actions in previous downturns.

The combined losses for our international operations are broadly in line with the guidance provided in November, and still lower than anticipated at the beginning of 2022. This reflected continued content investments and the ongoing expansion. The high levels of international subscriber and revenue growth are expected to result in significantly lower losses in 2023, and a combined international profit in 2024.

The IAC reflect our previously announced reorganisation and cost savings programme, which are focusing our resources on the areas that will drive most value moving forward. The latest dividend payment from our Allente joint venture added to our financial position, and we remain fully funded for our expansion journey. We have clear line of sight to our 2025 objectives and full visibility over our largely fixed cost base.

Our new organisational structure is now in place and will bring us even closer to our local customers and partners, while preserving the scale benefits of the investments that we are making into our platform and our content. Operational excellence and sustainable growth are central to our success and, while we find ourselves in uncertain times, I remain confident in our proven ability to adapt and to deliver on our considerable potential and ambitious plans.”

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