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Viaplay acquires Premier Sports in UK£30m deal to expand UK offering

Nordic media giant’s takeover adds significant portfolio of sports content.

21 July 2022 Tom Bassam

Getty Images

  • All Premier Sports channels to be rebranded
  • LaLiga, Uefa international matches and URC among Viaplay’s new properties
  • Nordic media brand now has more than 5.55m total subscribers ahead of autumn UK launch

Nordic media giant Viaplay Group has made a bold move in its UK expansion plans by acquiring Premier Sports in a deal that values the pay-TV network at UK£30 million (US$35.8 million) on a cash and debt-free basis.

The acquisition from Setanta Sports came as Viaplay announced a 69 per cent year-over-year (YoY) rise in its total subscriber count in the second quarter to now top 5.55 million as of 21st July, sending the company’s share price up by more than ten per cent.

Viaplay’s UK rollout is planned for this autumn, with a number of eye-catching acquisitions – including a big package of Uefa national team matches from 2024 and National Hockey League (NHL) rights until 2027 – already secured.

By moving for Premier Sports, the Stockholm-based company essentially brings forward its national team deal with Uefa to begin in 2022. The contract secured by Premier Sports earlier this year includes 60 exclusive matches featuring the Scotland, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland men’s national teams in the Euro 2024 qualifiers, as well as the Uefa Nations League.

Following the Premier Sports acquisition, Spanish soccer’s top-flight LaLiga is arguably the biggest club soccer property that will now be part of Viaplay’s UK offering, which will also include live Scottish and Italian knockout cup matches. In rugby union, Viaplay adds United Rugby Championship (URC) and Top 14 club action, as well as a package of matches from English rugby league’s second-tier Championship.

In 2021 Premier Sports saw its revenues grow by approximately 33 per cent YoY to UK£26.4 million (US$31.5 million), with its 222,000 paying subscribers across the Dublin-based media company’s linear and streaming services also now set to fold into Viaplay’s operations.

For consumers, Premier Sports’ linear channels and streaming service, as well as the visual look of its production, are going to be redesigned in line with Viaplay’s existing branding. The content offering via each specific platform has yet to be confirmed, but Premier Sports’ long-term linear network distribution agreements with Sky, Virgin, Amazon and Netgem TV will remain in place.

As a result of the acquisition, Viaplay will expand its UK offering at launch to two streaming packages, one centred on entertainment and the other a premier tier which will include the newly-expanded sports offering.

Premier Sports’ 23 current full-time employees are all expected to join Viaplay after the closing of the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval.

Anders Jensen, Viaplay president and chief executive 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.”

Richard Sweeney, Premier Sports chief executive, added: “At Premier Sports, we’re proud to have created a dynamic, innovative sports streamer and broadcaster over the past 13 years. From modest beginnings, and through the hard work and dedication of our people, we have continually grown the company, and today we have an extensive portfolio of must-see live sports that entertain loyal customers across the UK.

“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.”

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