• Viaplay Exit UK Sports Broadcasting Market

    Published Friday 04 August 2023 4:58pm

    3 min read

    Sports broadcaster Viaplay has recently announced their withdrawal from UK markets after only a year. Find out how this will impact leagues such as the SPFL here.

By WherestheMatch Team

Streaming service Viaplay are an international sport broadcaster offering live sport on tv as well as an assortment of Nordic dramas and films. The Sweden-based entertainment group saw sizable growth during and in the wake of the pandemic with an outlook to use their newfound financial sway to expand into the lucrative UK sports market. However, this expansion was short lived and within only a year Viaplay announced that they would be dropping the licences and shifting focus back to their core Scandinavian operations citing financial pressures and unexpectedly low advertising revenues as the reasoning behind their decision.

Viaplay’s foray into UK sports began with the £30 million acquisition of Premier Sports – an Irish broadcaster with whom they had previously shared a satellite stream. Premier Sports carved themselves out a market niche by showing sporting events that weren’t previously available in the UK until they became established enough to acquire rights to some of the top European Leagues. At time of purchase, their broadcasting portfolio included; Spanish La Liga, United Rugby Championship (URC), National Hockey League (NHL), Scottish League Cup, UEFA International Qualifiers, Handball, Winter Sports, and Darts.

Financial Challenges Due to Rapid Expansion

It seems that breaking into the UK market came far too soon for Viaplay. The company’s earnings report outlines a substantial drop in net income for the first half of 2023, a figure that is undoubtedly troubling investors especially when compared to the financial success of 2022. Now in full cost-cutting mode, Viaplay are exiting the Polish, Baltic, US, and Canadian markets while also looking to rapidly downsize by reducing their workforce by a quarter. This will likely have long-lasting implications on the broadcaster as they face a somewhat uncertain future.

In an official statement released by Viaplay’s president Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, he had this to say: "Going forward, our focus will be on the Nordic markets with the new operating model in place, on the right content mix, on the development of our soon to be profitable Dutch operations, and on the sale of our content internationally through Viaplay Select. We are focusing our attention and resources on those markets where we can compete for the long term, and ensuring that our products are relevant, popular and generate healthy returns."

Viaplay currently have rights to show the Scottish League Cup until 2027, while the deal for international Scotland matches doesn’t run out until 2028.

Potential Sponsorship Withdrawals

Other than their broadcasting agreements, Viaplay are also one of the main sponsors for the Scottish League Cup. Whether they will continue to sponsor the Cup going forward is a mystery to seemingly everyone including themselves, and it’s unlikely that we will have a clear answer on their future plans until they manage to scale back on expenditures. There has currently been no comment on this matter from the Scottish footballing authorities but it is understood that all payments from Viaplay to the Scottish Professional Football League are up to date.