Viaplay Group, the embattled Nordic over-the-top (OTT) streaming service operator, has reported a 4% growth in net sales for the first quarter of the year, but a 20% drop in subscribers.

In its Q1 financial results released today, the company posted group net sales of SEK4.76 billion ($422.3 million), slightly up from SEK4.53 billion in 2023.

Viaplay’s core operations in the Nordics and Netherlands delivered a 5.6% rise in organic sales to SEK4.46 billion, compared to around SEK4.23 billion last year.

The media giant revealed an operating loss for the quarter of SEK473 million from SEK325 million in 2023, although its net income was SEK605, compared to a net loss of SEK288 million in the prior year.

In February, Viaplay announced it is showing signs of recovery after a turbulent year on the back of aggressive cutbacks and company-wide restructuring. On February 9, it completed a recapitalization plan with net cash proceeds of SEK3.6 billion while its financial net debt was reduced by SEK5.6 billion.

Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, Viaplay group president and chief executive, has said: “The completion of the recapitalization program was an important step in setting the foundation for our retransformation into a profitably growing and cash-generative business.

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“We are now fully focused on the many operational improvements that need to be made across the group. Our Q1 results are in line with expectations, and we have reiterated our outlook for the year.

“We have adjusted our product prices in recent months, in order to ensure that we can continue to invest in our content offering. Following the recapitalization, we can now begin to commission for spring 2025.”

He continued: “The reality is that our content costs have risen faster than our revenues over the past few years, due to competition, underlying inflation, and ongoing adverse FX movements.

“We cannot expect our direct customers and distribution partners to carry these cost increases 100% alone, which is why we have sublicensed selected sports and non-sports content to other broadcasters and streamers.”

In recent months, Viaplay has agreed distribution deals with telecoms groups Talpa and Telia in the Netherlands and Norway, respectively, as well as TV3 Group, the prominent media company in the Baltic states.

Last month (March), the company entered into a sub-licensing agreement in Denmark and Sweden with Amazon.

Lindemann added: “Our commitment to restore profitability, enhance our product offering, and rebuild sustainable stakeholder value is unwavering.

“It will take time and will be done with a laser focus on consistent operational improvements, mutually beneficial partnerships turning account sharers into customers, innovative revenue streams, the right content mix at the right price, and strict cost control.”

Viaplay has faced severe financial difficulties since mid-2023 and has exited several markets as a result, including the UK, US, and Canada, to concentrate moving forward on its key territories of the Nordic countries and the Netherlands.

The company completed the sale of its UK business back to the Premier Sports broadcaster earlier this month.

Poland will be Viaplay’s only non-core business until it exits that market in mid-2025. At its peak, Viaplay operated in as many as 13 countries.

French TV heavyweight Canal Plus and PPF Group, a European investment firm based in Prague, Czech Republic, recently increased their stakes in Viaplay to 29% each. They both took smaller initial stakes in mid-2023. Canal Plus is now Viaplay's largest shareholder.

As part of its new strategy, Viaplay has also increased its subscription price in its core Nordic markets, while in the Netherlands, its monthly price will rise from €15.99 ($17.35) to €17.99 from late May.

Last month, Viaplay announced the appointment of Johan Johansson as its new group chief financial officer and co-chief executive for its Swedish business alongside Christian Albeck.

Viaplay’s sports rights in its core markets include English soccer’s Premier League, German Bundesliga, and UEFA Champions League, motor racing’s Formula 1, and ice hockey’s NHL.