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Viaplay switches to new operating model to mitigate economic downturn

Nordic media firm also announces changes to management team.

29 Jun 2023 Ed Dixon

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  • Daily operation and strategic development will be led by country management teams
  • Changes effective from 1st July
  • Viaplay replaced CEO Anders Jensen with Jorgen Madsen Lindemann and downgraded financial outlook this month

Viaplay Group has unveiled a new operating model and changes to its executive management team as the Nordic media giant bids to contend with a downturn in the TV advertising market and rising subscriber churn.

The ‘Nordic operating model’ will be based around country management teams taking full responsibility for the daily operation and strategic development of Viaplay. This includes full line of sight and accountability for sales, costs, profitability, cashflows, content, marketing and people operations.

The overhauled senior management team sees Jorgen Madsen Lindemann, who replaced Anders Jensen as the group’s chief executive earlier this month, named interim chief executive of Viaplay’s Swedish and Finnish operations while the search is made for a permanent appointment.

Lars Bo Jeppesen has been appointed as executive vice president and chief executive of Viaplay’s Danish and Icelandic divisions and will join on 1st August. Kenneth Andresen has been appointed as interim chief executive of the Norwegian business.

Peter Norrelund, who recently rejoined Viaplay as executive vice president and chief sports and business development officer, will also take on responsibility for the group’s operations in the Netherlands, Poland, Baltics and the UK.

The other members of the executive leadership team reporting to Lindemann are: Enrique Patrickson (executive vice president, chief financial officer and head of strategy and M&A); Philip Wagnert (executive vice president and chief technology and product officer); My Perrone (executive vice president and group general counsel); Matthew Hooper (returning to his role as executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer); Vanda Rapti (executive vice president, Viaplay Select and content distribution); and Christian Albeck (executive vice president, content acquisition).

The new operating model and changes to Viaplay’s executive management team will be effective from 1st July.

“This is the first of what will be a number of step changes to ensure that we are investing in the areas where we see the greatest potential, that we are laser focused on the daily business of creating locally relevant products and experiences, and that we are as close as possible to our customers,” said Lindemann.

“We are reviewing the competitiveness of all of our operations, and will make the necessary changes in order to drive higher performance levels and improve the returns on our content and technology investments.    

“The new team has the competence, experience and passion to drive the business forward. The new set-up provides both continuity and challenge, which are both essential elements in how we will run the group together. We have very dedicated and talented teams across the group, and this new set-up will enable the effective combination of our creative and commercial priorities.”

SportsPro says…

The financial impact of Viaplay’s changes will be announced on or before 20th July but the company is braced for an economic downturn. Earlier this month, the firm withdrew its long-term operational and financial guidance, and expected to close the second quarter with 7.7 million subscribers and sales of between SEK4.5 billion (US$416 million) and SEK4.6 billion (US$425 million). Advertising revenues are forecast to be down between 12 per cent and 16 per cent.

The broadcaster is a major bidder for sports rights in the Nordics and other parts of Europe, while it is using live coverage of properties such as the United Rugby Championship (URC), National Hockey League (NHL) and Uefa Euros qualifiers as a subscriber acquisition tool as it seeks to establish a niche in the UK.

However, this latest business rejig is in response to lower demand in streaming direct-to-consumer (DTC) subscriber markets, lower wholesale subscription sales by linear distribution partners, and deterioration of the Scandinavian TV and radio advertising markets.

Viaplay knows the winds are against it, which could hamper international ambitions for its streaming service. Indeed, the company has said further changes will be necessary to get the business firing on all cylinders.

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