Newsletter 13th of May: Audiobook Streaming with Increasing Revenues on Maturing Nordic Market


13 May 2020

As expected, interest in audiobooks has increased during the first quarter. The pandemic has meant that many have remained socially distanced at home and the Nordic actors are now reporting a subscriber inflow during Q1. But it is also increasingly clear that the audiobook market is approaching saturation in the Nordics.

Audiobook streaming services have shown substantial growth over the last years, well before the corona pandemic. And as it seems, interest has benefited from in-home quarantine rules and recommendations on social distancing. However, judging from the Q1 figures reported from the Nordic players Storytel and Bonnier Books (Bookbeat), growth is primarily allocated outside of the Nordic region. Mediavision figures are aligned, showing a stable local market.

In Q1 of 2020, Mediavision reports that close to 2,2 million Nordic households subscribe to an audiobook streaming service. This is about the same number as last year, indicating a market in or close to saturation. On a country-by-country level, penetration for audiobook streaming services range between 18-23% in this region.

Audiobook actors will probably not be able to benefit from a growth in stacking, as the premium VOD market does. In the absence of unique titles, audiobook services basically compete with the same content supply. In lack of content differentiation, price may be the most important competitive tool, especially as the market matures. Needless to say, this is one of the bigger challenges for the audiobook industry.

Bonnier owned Bookbeat reported a 79% revenue increase in Q1 2020 on April 6th. Possibly, Bonnier’s acquisition of Strawberry Publishing this week can contribute to the competitive edge of Bookbeat. Bonnier recently launched new publisher Gutkind in Denmark and according to CEO Håkan Rudels, both Gutkind and Strawberry will continue to act on the Danish market.

On Tuesday May 12th, Storytel reported its Q1 earnings. Streaming revenues increased by 45% YOY, landing at 429 million SEK, somewhat lower than the company’s own forecast of 438 million SEK. According to CEO Jonas Tellander, the lower than expected revenue is a result of a lower ARPU (average revenue per user), following negative currency effects in Norway (explained partly by the pandemic). Another explanation by Tellander, well consistent with Mediavision’s analysis of price competition, is that the number of family subscriptions have risen. In the Nordics, average paying subscribers increased by 4% comparing Q4 2019 to Q1 2020. However, average paying subscribers rose by 13% in the other markets. Among others, Russia, Holland, and Poland have previously been mentioned as growing markets by Tellander.

Industry News

TV4, C More and MTV, owned by the Telia Company, have purchased the exclusive rights to UEFA Champions League. The league will be aired exclusively on TV4 and C More starting in the autumn of 2021. In Finland, MTV’s current deal with UEFA was prolonged until 2024.
The latest edition of BARB’s annual Viewing Report shows that SVOD for the first time ever has arrived in the majority of UK households. 14.3 million UK households now subscribe to at least one SVOD-service, with the number only subscribing to one service declining.
New mobile-only streaming service Quibi struggles to gain subscribers. CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg attributed the difficulties to the Coronavirus, and will now add new features to increase popularity, including sharing options for social media and streaming on TV screens.
Two of the major players in the broadcast industry – NBCUniversal and Sky have announced new international business offering. The purpose is to enable advertising and partnership opportunities from Sky’s global portfolio to be purchased via NBCUniversal’s One Platform.
ViacomCBS has announced plans to launch an international streaming service within a year in order to expand its streaming efforts, harness the full potential of the ViacomCBS portfolio and boost its US premium offering CBS All Access.
Profits for the TV division of TDC Group fell by 12.7% YOY in Q1 2020 following YouSee’s dispute with Discovery Channel. The operator lost 61,000 TV subscribers and mobile/ broadband subscriptions with TV-customers. TDC Group revenue fell -4.1% in Q1 and EBITDA fell -2%.
Music streaming giant Spotify has launched a new feature, called Group Session, allowing two or more premium users in the same space to share control of the music being queued. The feature support up to 100 users, given they are in the same space.
AMC Entertainment’s shares surged on Monday following speculations that Amazon could potentially be acquired by Amazon. AMC owns Nordic Cinema Group, operating theatres in e.g. Sweden, Norway, and Finland, including Filmstaden in Sweden.
UK pay-TV sports channels BT Sport is embarking on plans to extend its eSports offer through a partnership with international esports business Gfinity, following the postponement of regular sports event due to the Corona pandemic.
Josephine Bornebusch, producer of NENT’s hit series “Love Me” is creating NENT’s next original production, “Orca” revolving around the highly current topic of social distancing. Production is conducted via phones and screens.

NBCUniversal’s new streaming service Peacock is set to launch in the US on July 15th. The company now announces that the service will be available on platforms operated by both Apple and Microsoft upon launch.

Mediavision Press Releases

Today, Mediavision releases its Q1 analysis of the Swedish TV and streaming market. For the first time since the Netflix’s launch in Sweden 2012, there is no growth YOY in SVOD household penetration.
Mediavisions analys av hushållens medieköp första kvartalet 2020 visar att utgifterna för ljud, text och rörlig bild fortsätter att öka. 

Mediavision in the News

De svenska konsumenternas intresse för strömningstjänster har nått en topp under coronakrisen. Det visar kvartalsrapporter från analysföretagen MMS och Mediavision.
Swedish consultancy Mediavision said in its analysis of Sweden’s television and streaming market in the first quarter of 2020 that there has been no year-on-year growth in SVoD household penetration…
De svenska hushållen har under första kvartalet spenderat i snitt 655 kronor på media, vilket är en ökning med fem procent året innan. Det visar en analys från Mediavision.
De hushåll som redan har ett streamingabonnemang är mer benägna att skaffa ett till. Det visar Mediavisions siffror från årets första kvartal.
Swedish household spending on media rose to an average of SEK 655 in the first quarter of 2020, according to consultancy Medaivision.
De hushåll som redan har ett streamingabonnemang är mer benägna att skaffa ett till. Det visar Mediavisions siffror från årets första kvartal.