Please wait...
Please wait...

Viaplay Group to acquire Premier Sports in $36m deal as it shoots for the UK

Viaplay Group is set to accelerate its entry into the UK after acquiring local sports streamer and TV channel operator Premier Sports.

Edward Breeze

The Stockholm-based company had been planning to launch its streamer, Viaplay, in the UK in the second half of 2022 and has now confirmed it will arrive in the market in the autumn.

It will launch with a line-up of originals and third-party content and an additional offer of a sports package, which has been boosted by the acquisition of Premier Sports.

Premier Sports’s UK sports rights include La Liga, Scottish Cup, Scottish League Cup and Coppa Italia football; United Rugby Championship, Rugby Football League and Top 14 rugby; NASCAR motorsport; and the Elite Ice Hockey League. The company also operates advertising-funded TV channel FreeSports.

Founded in 2009 and majority-owned by Setanta Sports, Premier Sports’ revenues grew by approximately 33% in 2021 to £26.4m (US$31.6m). The service has 222,000 paying subscribers.

The company is based in Dublin and has 23 full-time employees, all of whom are expected to join Viaplay Group after the closing of the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval. The transaction values Premier Sports at £30m on a cash and debt-free basis.

Further details of Viaplay’s UK content, pricing and launch date will be announced in due course, the company said. It added that the acquisition “marks a significant acceleration” of its ambitions in the UK ahead of the launch of the Viaplay streaming service, which is targeting availability in at least 21 countries by the end of 2023.

Viaplay Group recently secured rights to 60 exclusive matches to be played by the Scotland, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland men’s national football teams in the UEFA European Qualifiers and UEFA Nations League from this year, as part of a package of more than 400 international matches from across Europe. The agreement runs until 2024, when Viaplay’s recently announced partnership with UEFA in the UK comes into effect.

The company has also appointed Edward Breeze as senior VP and head of sports in the UK to lead Viaplay Group’s sports operations in the country.

Breeze will join Viaplay Group in October from DAZN, where he is currently executive VP of rights. He has previously worked at Perform, Inform and Octagon.

Breeze will become a member of Viaplay Group’s sports leadership team, reporting to Peter Nørrelund, Viaplay Group chief sports officer, and will be based in London.

Viaplay Group today released its Q2 2022 interim report for January to June this year, reporting 5.5 million Viaplay subscribers and a further upgrade to its subscriber target from seven million to 7.3 million by the end of the year.

Anders Jensen

The Nordic subscriber target remains unchanged after the upgrade last quarter, while the international subscriber target has now been raised from 2.2 million to 2.5 million. The international Viaplay operations added 307,000 subscribers in the quarter, with the service available in every Nordic and Baltic country plus Poland, the US and the Netherlands.

Anders Jensen, Viaplay Group president and CEO, said: “This acquisition will put Viaplay firmly on the UK map and accelerate our development in this key market. Premier Sports has a loyal and expanding subscriber base, well-established distribution agreements and production capabilities, and a great sports portfolio that complements our own.

“There is also a big opportunity to make Viaplay’s wider offering, including our award-winning Viaplay Originals, available to Premier Sports’ subscribers. We have secured this growing and profitable business at an attractive valuation. This is a fast and effective route to building an even stronger position for Viaplay in the UK.”

Richard Sweeney, Premier Sports CEO, added: “Our sale to Viaplay Group will dramatically increase the content available to new and existing subscribers. This is the start of an exciting new chapter in the development of the business, and is great news for our colleagues, customers and partners.”

Please wait...