French TV heavyweight Canal Plus has announced that it will increase its stake in beleaguered Scandinavian media service Viaplay’s ownership to above 25%.
Canal Plus, which helps to distribute Viaplay in European regions such as Poland and Austria through its regional networks, purchased an initial 12% stake in Viaplay Group in July 2023, amid a slate of redundancies and business contractions made by the entertainment company.
PPF Group, a European investment firm based in Prague, Czech Republic that acquired 6% in Viaplay last August, will also take its stake in the firm to above 25% per a filing with Denmark’s Federal Competition Authority.
It was reported at the time of Canal Plus’ initial investment that Viaplay was considering a full sale. This outcome seems more likely now that the major investors have raised their stakes to over 50% cumulatively, with Canal Plus aiming to have a presence in over 50 countries globally.
At its peak, Viaplay operated in as many as 13 countries, including the US and the UK, but has now divested completely from many of these, consolidating its operations around Scandinavia.
In November, Viaplay completely divested from the UK, selling the business it had purchased from Premier Sports in 2022 back to its original owner at a loss.
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Viaplay still holds numerous sports rights, including Denmark’s top-tier soccer competition the Superliga, which it holds rights to through 2030. It also holds the rights to motorcycling's MotoGP in every Scandinavian country.
Canal Plus, meanwhile, holds a large swathe of top-tier sports rights in several global territories stretching across Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Asia.
In September, it announced the retention of rights to English soccer’s top-tier Premier League through the 2027-28 season in a swathe of countries. Canal Plus will air the sought-after competition in France, Switzerland (in French only), the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Vietnam.