The Scandinavian media giant Viaplay is planning to pull its stand-alone direct-to-consumer streaming service from the UK, the U.S. and Canada.
In a low-key Q2 earnings call on Thursday morning, CEO Jørgen Madsen Lindemann said the company was implementing a new strategy to focus on its core Nordic, Netherlands and branded content service Viaplay Select operations.
That strategy would see it “exiting most of our international markets.” Those include the UK (which launched last November), Canada and the U.S. The latter two launched in March of this year.
“Our international operations are not moving quickly enough towards profitability,” Lindemann said on the investor call. “We want to be in markets with products where we can compete and build long-term sustainable businesses with premium products that people love to come back to.”
“[Therefore], our focus is on Nordics, Netherlands and Viaplay Select. All other international business will be sold, partnered or the content sub-licensed. The process has started and we’re already in discussions with various parties,” he said. “We are also discontinuing our low-tier non-sports offering in each of our international markets, in order to focus on our sports offering and the sale of non-sports content through our profitable Viaplay Select business.”
Lindemann also announced the company would lay off 25% of its more than 1,500 workforce some 375 positions and ongoing financial concerns meant that he and his management team and board are considering selling the company.
The company also plans to cut back on the money it spends on scripted programming, with Lindemann saying that some of the spending had “not paid off” for the company. He said the focus would now be more on acquired and unscripted programming.
The move caps a difficult year for the media company, which in June had replaced long-term chief exec Anders Jensen with Lindemann and restructured its management team as part of a country-based operating model.
These changes come in stark contrast to the optimism shown by then-CEO Ander last year, who said during a Q3 earning call that Viaplay’s growth had proved it is “possible to compete with and beat the Americans.”
Edited by Arnab Nandy