What is Nent and how is this Scandinavian platform challenging Netflix?

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The number of video service subscriptions in Western Europe surpassed pay-TV customers for the first time last year, driven by the pandemic.

Of the 141 million on-demand content subscriptions in Western Europe, about 86% are with U.S. services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Disney Plus, according to estimates from Ampere Analysis.

In the Scandinavian region, however, there is one company that is holding its own against the majors: Nordic Entertainment Group (Nent). This Stockholm-based company has estimated revenues of $1.5 billion (around €1.237 billion at current exchange rates) versus Netflix’s $25 billion (€20.626 billion).

However, The Financial Times notes the platform is doing a better job than any other operator on the continent in defending its territory.

With about 3 million subscribers, Nent’s Viaplay streaming service Viaplay, which offers a combination of sport and original entertainment, is second only to Netflix in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway, where Ampere estimates the U.S. service has about 4.2 million customers.

Netflix: why 2 minutes counts as a viewing and other secrets of its audiences.

In terms of revenue in these markets, Nent claims that Viaplay, whose sports packages are priced higher than Netflix, generates more than its U.S. rival.

Thus, according to the same media outlet, no other national subscription service in Western Europe can match Nent’s second place to Netflix in its home market, neither the big pay-TV groups like Sky or Vivendi’s Canal nor commercial broadcasters like RTL, France’s TF1, Italy’s Mediaset or ITV.

Anders Jensen, CEO of the Scandinavian group, believes that most European rivals are “very conservative”.

As for the reason that has put the platform in this position, some experts believe that it is due, contradictorily enough, to its weakness.

When Jensen took over what was then called Modern Times Group in 2014, its TV division was mediocre, barely reaching second or third position in most markets. The group had less to lose.

So Nent slashed costs in its legacy businesses to fund investment in broadcast technology and began ramping up production of original programs.

It then ventured outside its home market as a service specializing in Nordic dramas, which it plans to do in the U.S. as well over the next year.

“We have to internationalize to be relevant in five, six or 10 years,” Jensen said.

The executive is now preparing to push the Viaplay service into 10 new territories with the goal of 10.5 million subscribers in total by 2025, 4.5 million outside the Nordic region.

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