Swedish media group NENT plans U.S. streaming service for Nordic noir fans

FILE PHOTO: NENT sign is seen at their headquarters in Stockholm
FILE PHOTO: Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT) sign is seen at their headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Olof Swahnberg/File Photo

November 10, 2020

By Johannes Hellstrom

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden’s NENT plans to tap into the demand for Nordic drama by launching its streaming service Viaplay in the United States next year and is considering an equity raise of more than 3.5 billion crowns ($405 million) to fund expansion, it said on Tuesday.

Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT) said the U.S. entry was not about going head-to-head with streaming giants such as Netflix, HBO Max and Disney+, but “a tailored service offering high-quality Nordic drama series” with a planned launch in late 2021.

Nordic Noir crime stories set in Scandinavia with bleak landscapes and shocking violence – such as “The Bridge” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – have enjoyed international success.

“We have done customer surveys in the U.S., which rank Nordic drama very high, but no one has packaged it the way we will now,” NENT CEO Anders Jensen told Reuters in an interview.

NENT also unveiled plans to roll out Viaplay in 10 international markets by the end of 2023, and to target 10.5 million subscribers by 2025, versus 2.8 million at the end of September.

To fund the expansion, which would also include large markets such as Poland, NENT is considering an equity raise.

“Viaplay is a proven Nordic success story and we are now ready to expand internationally and become the European streaming champion,” NENT said, adding it was also considering a secondary share listing in the United States.

Viaplay aims to more than double its Nordic subscriber base to around 6 million and increase subscriptions elsewhere to around 4.5 million, with Europe still making up the majority.

“This acceleration in the group’s development is expected to generate 18-20% compound annual organic sales growth for 2020-2025, with the Nordic operations generating 13-15% growth,” NENT said.

NENT expects to have a 15% operating margin in the Nordics by 2025 – compared to a 6.2% adjusted group margin in the third quarter, and also to reach profitability in its international operations by then.

Shares of the company rose 1.4% by 1052 GMT.

(Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; Editing by Simon Johnson, Niklas Pollard and Barbara Lewis)