Viaplay, the beleaguered European sports media heavyweight, has announced it is showing signs of recovery after a turbulent year on the back of aggressive cutbacks and company-wide restructuring.

The company posted 3% organic sales growth for the fourth quarter of 2023 from SEK4.7 billion ($454 million) in 2022 to SEK4.9 billion, helping overall net sales in 2023 increase to AEK19.6 billion from SEK15.7 billion in 2022.

However, Viaplay’s operating income dropped to a loss of SEK10.3 billion in 2023 from a profit of AEK143 million in 2022. This came following a SEK2.9 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2023, as opposed to a loss of SEK294 million during the equivalent quarter in 2022.

The loss reflects the sports content write-downs and provisions as the streamer undertook a dramatic strategy shift last year in which it sold its UK operation and withdrew from the Baltics, Poland, and North America.

The exits meant that Viaplay had been left with cash costs for content that it could not sell back or sublicense.

Its UK business was sold back to Premier Sports, while its exit from the Baltics was finalized recently after selling all of its sports rights to media firm TV3 Group. Its withdrawal from the US has also been completed and its exit from Poland will be finalized “by the middle of next year.”

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Viaplay chief executive Jorgen Madsen Lindemann has said: “The exiting of these non-core markets enables us to focus on our core Nordic operations, in markets where we have delivered profitable growth with double-digit margins and strong cash conversion in the past.

“And that, combined with our scale and soon-to-be profitable business in the Netherlands, is what we are aiming to do again.

“To achieve these goals, we have reset our content strategy, moving away from large numbers of high-cost original dramas towards more popular and profitable local formats and Hollywood content.

“We have therefore sold rights to a number of our original productions to global media players and also sold or closed our production businesses.

“We are also reducing our sports rights commitments, including sublicensing selected rights so that we can focus on the rights that really move the needle for us.”

Viaplay had launched its paid streaming service over the past few years in multiple European markets and the US, hoping that its mix of Nordic noir content and sports rights could drive growth. At its peak, Viaplay operated in as many as 13 countries.

However, while the company’s strategy paid off in some smaller markets, the larger ones proved harder to penetrate.

In mid-2023 year, the company suddenly announced it was laying off more than 25% of its staff, and that it would be exiting some international markets and sublicensing content to stem its losses. It also announced Anders Jensen, the chief executive who oversaw Viaplay’s rapid expansion, had left the company.

Since then, under Lindemann, the company has been working to steady the ship while recapitalizing its business. The recapitalization plan was completed earlier this month. It saw the company sell the rights to various original productions, sell or close its production business, and reduce its sports rights commitments.

Lindemann added: “We have become leaner after the measures that we have taken over the last nine months.

“Moving forward in the coming years, we will work to optimize in all areas, open up new revenue streams, and increase efficiency levels. We are beginning the journey now with commercially focused goals, clear operational accountability, and the ability to put the right teams in place now that we have secured the refinancing.”

As part of its 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.

This year has already seen French TV heavyweight Canal Plus and PPF Group, a European investment firm based in Prague, Czech Republic. announce that they would increase their stakes in Viaplay to 29% each. They both took smaller initial slices of the embattled broadcaster in mid-2023. Canal Plus, as a result of that deal, is now Viaplay's largest shareholder.