Huge headache for Scottish FA and SPFL as Viaplay confirm they are pulling out of the UK

Anyone reading this who has a Viaplay subscription might want to get on the phone to cancel it as quickly as possible as the news is that the Swedish broadcasting business is pulling out of the UK and looks like is in serious difficulty with its future very much in doubt.

And that of course if bad news for the governing bodies of Scottish Football, with Viaplay not only the subscription based broadcaster for the League Cup but also the SPFL’s sponsor and for the Scottish FA it’s just as bad with both the Scottish Cup and the Scotland National Team matches being shown on Viaplay via an expensive subscription.

Callum McGregor of Celtic celebrates at the final whistle as Celtic beat Rangers 2-1 in the Viaplay League Cup Final at Hampden Park on February 26, 2023 (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Respected journalist Stephen McGowan from Scottish Daily Mail has just posted an update on social media about Viaplay’s problems. He states: “Viaplay confirm they are pulling out of the UK and ‘conducting an immediate strategic review of the entire business to consider all options, including content sublicensing, asset disposals, equity injections or the sale of the whole group.’”

There’s a link to the Hollywood Reporter site – which has 3.4m followers – with their headline reading as follows:

“Viaplay to Lay Off 25 Percent of Staff, End Streaming Services in U.S., U.K. to Focus on Core Nordic Markets, Explore Sale.”

The sub-heading states: “The company, led by CEO Jorgen Madsen Lindemann, had recently warned that revenue and earnings would be sharply below previous forecasts and that cost-cutting would be needed.”

The Hollywood Reporter reports:

Scandinavian streamer Viaplay outlined plans on Thursday to focus on its core markets in the Nordics and Netherlands, including the end of streaming services launched in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and lay off more than 25 percent of staff. The moves are part of broad-based cost-cutting measures amid various business challenges cited by Viaplay’s new CEO.

The company will also consider various strategic options, including a possible sale.

Jorgen Madsen Lindemann, who replaced Anders Jensen as CEO of the pan-Nordic streaming group in June, had recently warned that 2023 revenue and earnings would come in sharply below previous forecasts and that cost-cutting would be needed. His team at the time also pulled the firm’s previously unveiled full-year 2023 outlook after a review of its operations and performance.

Viaplay back then also said it would be taking “a broad range of actions to address the underlying deterioration in earnings,” including job and other cost cuts, the renegotiation of deals with distribution partners, as well as a “review of the international operations and non-core assets.”

The Viaplay CEO said in an update on Thursday: “We are today announcing a new strategy and plan, which includes, but is not limited to, focusing on our core Nordic, Netherlands and Viaplay Select operations (which make available a wide range of Viaplay series, films and documentaries through partners around the world); implementing a new operational model; downsizing, partnering or exiting our other international markets; rightsizing and pricing our product offering in the Nordics; undertaking a major cost reduction program; and conducting an immediate strategic review of the entire business to consider all options, including content sublicensing, asset disposals, equity injections or the sale of the whole group.”

Emphasizing that the firm was “moving quickly” to address various challenges, Lindemann said: “The content investments that have been made are not all paying off, and are committed in the short and medium term. Furthermore, the pursuit of subscriber volume growth has been at the cost of value, especially when it comes to our partner agreements. The weakness in the advertising markets and currency exchange rates are additional factors that we must live with. The international expansion assumptions, including the timelines to profitability, have also been pushed materially into the future since the expansion started.”

The streaming service had ended 2022 with more than 7.3 million subscribers, with 37 percent, or nearly 2.7 million, of them being outside the Nordics, namely the Baltic countries, the U.K., Poland and the Netherlands. Earlier this year, Viaplay debuted in the U.S., followed by a launch in Canada. But on Thursday, the company reported “higher quarter-over-quarter losses for the international operations due to the content investments that we have made, the consolidation of the U.K. operation and the launches in North America.”

Viaplay bought over Premier Sports in a £30m deal in 2022 having already secured a deal with the Scottish FA to have exclusive broadcast rights for the Scotland national team, meaning that Scotland alone in the UK does not have the national team on free to view television. The Dutch based broadcaster added deals for the the Scottish Cup with the SFA. and League Cup with the SPFL and also became the League Cup sponsor.

This news is going to cause a considerable headache for both of Scottish football’s governing bodies. Sky Sports will be licking their lips sensing a huge bargain is in the offing as they become the only show in town, yet again.

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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