Newsletter 18th of March: The Corona Outbreak Affects 3.5 M Nordic Premium Sports Subs


18 March 2020

As sports-events continue to be postponed or cancelled in the wake of the Coronavirus, media actors have been quick to respond. Prices for premium streaming services have already been cut and prices for traditional TV packages are being adjusted as we speak. In this week’s newsletter, we outline some of the most significant developments for the Nordic market. 

The Corona virus outbreak continues to dominate the news, worldwide. We take comfort in the well-established saying “It´s always darkest before the dawn.” Nevertheless, the global outbreak will certainly have consequences also for the actors within the Nordic media industry. Perhaps, the most direct effects are seen in the recent cancellations of major sports events. In the Nordic region, the vast majority of local leagues and tournaments, across all disciplines, have either been cancelled or postponed. All domestic hockey leagues playoffs are cancelled (Nordic). On Tuesday it was decided that the top male league for soccer in SwedenAllsvenskan, will be postponed to June, resulting in a record-short season of 6 months.

In the Nordics, over 3.5 million households pay to watch premium sports via traditional TV or SVOD. In order to compensate for cancelled and postponed games, several local actors responded quickly to the changed schedule, with both NENT, Discovery, TV 2 Denmark, TV2 Sumo and C More temporarily reducing the price of their sports-packages. On Tuesday, NENT stated in a press release that the company will not report media rights costs for postponed sports events in its income statement until such time as the events take place. Anders Jensen commented in the press release that “We do not make additional payments for events that have been postponed and if the postponements lead to cancellations, we expect the rights owners to honour their contractual obligations and reimburse the payments we have already made.” Other companies have also taken actions to compensate their customers. For example, Get in Norway offers its customers to freeze or downgrade their packages and Telia has adjusted its prices for packages including C More and Viasat.

International tournaments and leagues have understandably been effected as well. The Champions and Europa League have been postponed indefinitely. Reportedly, UEFA is considering a mini tournament at some point to appoint the winners. On Tuesday, it was announced that UEFA Euro 2020 will be postponed a year and played during the summer of 2021. This means that local actors, such as SVT and TV4 in Sweden and NRK and TV 2, will miss out on the broadcasts this summer. Although an official decision is yet to be announced, reportedly the IIHF has decided to cancel the 2002 World Ice Hockey Championship as well.

Regardless of when the dawn finally comes, lots of people and certainly most of the actors in the value chain will suffer from both personal and economic losses. When the right time comes, we can foresee discussions on how to distribute the huge costs that will follow.

Industry News

NBCUniversal Breaks Theatrical Windows

In an effort to handle consequences of the Corona outbreak, NBCU will make its theatrical releases available to rent. The Invisible Man, Emma and the upcoming Trolls World Tour will retail for $20.

Corona Causes Drop for Box Office

The US saw its least profitable box office weekend in 20 years, totaling at $53.6M, the lowest weekend since September 1-3 in 2000 with $49.0M. In the Nordics, Odean Cinema Group decided to close all theaters on Wednesday (incl Filmstaden in Sweden).

Discovery Plus to Launch in India

Discovery Plus will now be available to about 25 million consumers in major Indian cities. The service will offer premium subscribers Premium Discovery titles, documentaries, India originals and exclusive acquisitions. Content will be delivered in eight languages including Hindi and English.

AT&T Expands Ad Tech Business

3 new partners for AT&T´s ad-tech business Xandr were announced last week: AMC Networks, Disney and Warner Media. The platform offers new ways to plan and activate audiences.

Egmont Increases Revenue by 1 billion

Media conglomerate Egmont has increased its revenue by 1 billion during 2019. EBIT also increased marginally. The conglomerate consists of Egmont Publishing, Egmont Books, Egmont Nordisk Film and TV 2 Norway.

Eurovision Song Contest Cancelled 

This year´s edition of the Eurovision Song Contest has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The event was originally planned to be held in Rotterdam on the 12th of May and be aired on SVT.