Swedish over-the-top (OTT) broadcaster Viaplay Group is in the process of finalizing a deal to divest from the UK completely, with its UK sports channels and associated rights to be reacquired by UK network Premier Sports.
Viaplay purchased Premier Sports, along with its suite of sports rights, in 2022, with the Premier Sports 1, Premier Sports 2 and FreeSports channels rebranded under the Viaplay moniker.
The three channels and the service itself are now set to return to the previous Premier Sports branding as Viaplay exits the UK altogether in order to focus on its core Nordic markets.
Premier Sports unveiled the deal earlier today (November 29), adding that it is still subject to competition approval.
Premier Sports’ rights in the UK are primarily focused in Scotland, where it holds the rights to Scottish national team home soccer internationals, as well as the league cup domestic competition, which it also serves as the title sponsor of, having done so under both the Premier sports and Viaplay names.
The service, which is available as a premium TV channel as well as an online service, also holds the rights to Spanish soccer’s top-tier LaLiga competition, as well as rugby union’s United Rugby Championship and ice hockey's NHL, in the UK.
The pan-European service has faced severe financial difficulties in 2023, however, with the company undertaking a change in strategy that saw downsizing and layoffs in multiple markets announced in the middle of the year.
Amid this, Viaplay revealed its intentions to exit the UK streaming market, intentions it now would appear to be realizing.
It has been reported that Premier Sports’ previous ownership is likely to have bought back the rights it sold to Viaplay for what is likely a fraction of the price it sold them for.
The return of Premier Sports branding to the service is expected to take place in early 2024, with the Viaplay Cup competition in Scotland ending in December 2023.