Viaplay, the Scandinavian media heavyweight, has hired Roger Lodewick to head up its operations in the Netherlands.
He will serve as senior vice president and chief executive (CEO) and hold commercial and operational responsibility for the Viaplay streaming service in the country.
Lodewick will report to Peter Nørrelund, Viaplay Group’s executive vice president and chief sports and business development officer.
He joins Viaplay from esports company ESL FACEIT Group where he was president of sports games.
Lodewick has a 20-year executive track record spanning a wide range of global gaming, entertainment, media, and sports businesses.
He previously spent four years heading up portfolio businesses owned by esports and gaming investment company Modern Times Group (MTG), holding the positions of CEO of DreamHack Sports Games and co-CEO of DreamHack.
Prior to MTG, Lodewick worked for 12 years as a media sales and product executive at the Switzerland-based Team Marketing agency, the exclusive global marketing agency for European soccer’s UEFA Champions League and Europa League club competitions.
In this role, he held responsibility for media rights sales for these competitions in multiple European territories and sub-Saharan Africa and was part of the team that revamped the UEFA Cup into the Europa League and centralized its commercial rights to UEFA.
Nørrelund said: “Roger brings the proven commercial, operational, and strategic know-how to take our Dutch business to the next level. We have an outstanding sports streaming product that is profitable and continuously growing in value for fans across the Netherlands. I am very happy to welcome Roger to Viaplay as we look forward to the many opportunities ahead.”
Lodewick added: “I’m thrilled to join Viaplay and lead the team who produce and commercialize the most appealing sports offering in the Netherlands. Since entering the Dutch market just two years ago, Viaplay has made numerous bold innovations and established a world-class production set-up.
“The company’s country-based operating model gives us both flexibility and local ownership, and I’m confident that we can continue growing and reinforce Viaplay’s position as the benchmark in Dutch sports streaming.”
Viaplay (under its previous guise of Nordic Entertainment Group) launched in the Netherlands in March 2022 and offers a wide range of live sporting action, including English soccer’s Premier League, motor racing’s prestigious Formula 1 (F1) series, and PDC Darts.
Its sports rights portfolio in the market also includes the German Bundesliga, EFL Championship, and Carabao Cup soccer, field hockey, and kickboxing.
In September, Viaplay agreed a deal with F1 to carry its F1 TV premium streaming service in the Netherlands.
The financially beleaguered media company recently reported a third-quarter net loss of SEK693 million ($66.2 million), with its share price reaching a new low of SEK4.68.
Viaplay, which holds multiple sets of top-tier sports rights over a range of European markets, was in financial turmoil for much of 2023, with the broadcaster recording significant losses in the second quarter and having to let over 30% of its international workforce go in recent months.
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 and the Netherlands.
The company completely divested from the UK, selling the business it had purchased from Premier Sports in 2022 back to its original owner at a loss in November.
French TV heavyweight Canal Plus and PPF Group, a European investment firm based in Prague, Czech Republic, recently increased their respective stakes in Viaplay to 25%.
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.