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Viaplay Group rejigs operating model, exec team to further growth of local markets

Viaplay Group has rejigged its operational model and executive management team, leading to new roles for Kim Poder, Alexander Bastin, Matthew Hooper and Vanda Rapti.

Anders Jensen

The Stockholm-based group has adjusted its operational model to introduce four regions to the company’s existing set-up as it continues its growth with the launch of streamer Viaplay in international markets.

The company said the rejig will enable “even greater focus on growing its customer bases in each established local market.”

As a result, Poder has been appointed executive VP and chief commercial officer for the group’s Nordic operations, having been executive VP and chief commercial officer for the group since 2019.

Bastin, CEO at Viaplay Studios and senior VP of commercial affairs for scripted, has been named executive VP and chief commercial officer for the group’s Baltic, Polish and Dutch operations.

Hooper, executive VP and chief corporate affairs officer, will serve as executive VP and chief commercial officer for the UK, where the group recently launched Viaplay and is plotting a batch of originals.

Rapti, meanwhile, has been appointed executive VP and chief commercial officer for North America and Viaplay Select having previously served as senior VP of acquisitions, distribution and partnerships.

The company held its 2022 Capital Markets Day in Stockholm on Thursday and confirmed an agreement with Pickbox Now to make its content available in an additional seven European markets through Viaplay Select, the alternative to its own direct-to-consumer service that is available on other streamers.

The seven European markets are: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia.

The group said its international operations are performing “ahead of plan,” while “short-term challenges” are being addressed in the Nordic markets.

The group expects the number of paying Viaplay subscribers to grow by 23% from approximately 7.3 million at the end of 2022 to approximately nine million at the end of 2023, of which five million subscribers are expected to be in the Nordics, and four million subscribers in the group’s international markets.

Viaplay is now available direct-to-consumer in 11 European countries following last week’s UK launch and will add the US and Canada in February and March respectively. No further direct-to-consumer markets are expected to be launched in 2023.

In 2023, Viaplay Group expects to deliver approximately SEK 1.2bn-1.35bn (US$110m-124m) of operating income for its Nordic operations and a loss of approximately SEK 1bn-1.1bn for its international operations.

Anders Jensen, Viaplay Group president and CEO said: “We are today reaffirming our 2022 and 2025 targets, which demonstrates the significant progress that we have already made, and the considerable potential of the group. We have come a long way since the launch of our five-year strategy and goals in 2020.

“After just two years, we are already over halfway towards our 12 million Viaplay subscriber target. Our international expansion is running ahead of plan and we expect to achieve combined profitability for the international operations in 2024 – one year ahead of schedule.

“We have just launched in the UK and will launch in the US and Canada in the coming months. These are three mature markets in which we have tailored content offerings and need relatively small market shares to generate healthy profits.

“The addition of seven new European territories for Viaplay Select shows how we can monetise our content and build our brand in markets where we do not currently plan to offer Viaplay on a direct-to-consumer basis.

“At the same time, we are implementing a cost savings and investment deferral programme in order to offset currency headwinds due to the inflation of our US dollar content acquisition costs, and the impact of the weaker macro-economic environment.

“We remain fully funded for our expansion, are adjusting our operational model and have appointed senior commercial leaders in our markets to ensure we execute on our regional development plans and get even closer to our customers, while ensuring the operational benefits of a platform-based business.

“All in all, the popularity and appeal of Viaplay is growing. We have attractive price points and tailored content offerings that mean we are well positioned to deliver on our strategic objectives and to build a truly sustainable entertainment provider.”

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