Viaplay Gains Subscribers as Ad Revenues Falter

Dan Meier 14 February, 2023 

Viaplay has reported 83 percent YoY subscriber growth in Q4 2022, bringing its total subs to 7.3 million.

The Swedish broadcaster posted 20 percent group organic sales growth and 10 percent Nordic organic sales growth for 2022, in line with the company’s full-year guidance updated in November.

Total sales generated SEK 15.7 billion in 2022, driven by the Viaplay streaming service which delivered 48 percent of group sales. Organic revenues grew 73 percent YoY in Q4, and 52 percent for the full year.

Advertising revenues were down however, the 9 percent YoY decline reflecting downturn in the Scandinavian ad markets, as well as World Cup coverage on competing platforms. “We expect this trend of lower advertising spend to continue for at least the first half of 2023,” said Viaplay President and CEO Anders Jensen.

Counting costs

The results are broadly in line with slowing TV ad revenues across Europe, with ITV and ProSiebenSat.1 reporting revenue drops in the previous quarter. In October 2022, Viaplay cut its full-year guidance “as a result of the immediate effects of the general economic slowdown on advertising and subscription sales.” This was borne out by the Q4 figures, though the company notes its combined international losses are lower than anticipated at the beginning of 2022.

Part of those costs stem from ongoing expansion into international markets, launching Viaplay in the UK and Netherlands last year, adding the US and Canada in the next month. Subscriber growth was driven by all 11 markets, the company said, adding a combined 890,000 subs in Q4. The group also reported churn during the World Cup, when regular football leagues were suspended, but subscriber numbers recovered after the tournament.

Driving ahead 

Viaplay noted that costs incurred in its re-organisation plans and acquisition of Premier Sports UK will be included in its next quarterly results. The company added that dividend payments from Allente, its TV distribution joint venture with Norwegian telco Telenor Group, have strengthened its financial position. “We remain fully funded for our expansion journey,” added CEO Jensen. “We have clear line of sight to our 2025 objectives and full visibility over our largely fixed cost base.”

The broadcaster expects “significantly lower losses” in 2023, before turning a combined international profit in 2024. The addition of 130 original programmes this year, as well as Formula One coverage in Poland this season, are expected to drive international growth.

“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,” said Jensen.

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