Newsletter 6th of October – Podcasts, Consolidation & Perhaps a Strike…


6 October 2021

This past week has been crammed with news from all parts of the media industry, both on our home turf in the Nordics as well as from other parts of the world. While waiting for the markets’ Q3 reports, here is a brief summary of this week’s more significant news.

The podcast arena has been in the centre of attention all through 2021. This week, several Nordic actors have amped their game. In Norway, NRK presented several new titles to be added to their line-up this fall – for example a companion podcast to its recent success Maskorama, joining the trend of podcasts centred around a movie or series. Norwegian Aftenposten also presented new audio content for this fall, including Jeg var der, its first podcast to be put behind a paywall on PodMe. Aftenposten owner Schibsted recently acquired a 91% stake in this service. In Sweden, Bauer Media announced the launch of Podplay Live – a new format that will enable conversations between podcasters and listeners during a live broadcast. Älskade Psykopat (“Beloved Psychopath”) is the first title to explore this format. Further, recently launched service Sesamy, that offers audiobooks and e-books through per-item purchases, may soon be adding podcasts to their supply.

Consolidation on the Nordic publishing market continues. Last week, news broke that Danish JP/Politiken has acquired a 70% stake in the fifth largest publishing group in Norway – Kagge Forlag and J.M. Stenersens Forlag. Hence, expanding its Nordic footprint even further, following the launch of publishing house Polaris back in 2017. Meanwhile, Swedish actor Bonnier has withdrawn titles (including Expressen) from Readly in a move to focus on its own e-magazine service Arcy.

In terms of video, the upcoming Nordic launch of HBO Max has been in focus this week as the company communicated further details on the take-off – including that the monthly price will be significantly lower than the current price of HBO Nordic. Content will be produced in the Nordics under the brand Max Originals, including the Swedish comedy Lust with Sofia Helin. At Vox Media’s Code Conference earlier this week, WarnerMedia CEO said that the company will spend more than USD 18 billion on content across all areas of the business in both 2021 and 2022.

As such, the stream of heavy content investments continue – but a possible strike in Hollywood raise worries over potential production delays. 60,000 of Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes workers, including camera operators, script coordinators, and makeup artists, voted to authorize an industry-wide strike on Monday. The union has been advocating for better working hours, safer workplace conditions and improved benefits. Among the demands are higher compensation from streaming services. An agreement made in 2009 allowed streaming services with fewer than 20 million subscribers to pay workers lower-than-standard wages. The intention was to help streaming become more popular, but as it has persisted to this day when streaming holds a significantly different position in the industry, workers call for the agreement to be retracted.

Lastly, we have seen several successful theatrical releases these past couple of weeks as international box office has returned post-pandemic – also in the Nordics. The latest tent-pole title to premiere was MGM/Eon/Universal’s No Time to Die, the final Bond-movie with Daniel Craig in the leading role, which hit USD 121 million in international box office during its opening weekend. These figures are in line with Skyfall, and just below Spectre (-15%).

Industry News

Squid Game Boosts Netflix Stock

On Tuesday evening this week, Netflix’s stock value rose by 5% – now  trading at USD 632, a new record figure. According to Bloomberg, the raise is partly related to Netflix’s recent success series Squid Game.

Instagram Discontinues IGTV

Instagram is rebranding IGTV as “Instagram TV”, discontinuing the exclusive IGTV video format. Videos posted to the main Instagram feed can now run up to 60 minutes long and users no longer have to leave the main app to view them.

Nielsen to Provide Total Video Measure

Sweden’s audience measurement body MMS has extended and expanded the cross-media measurement services provided by Nielsen, which it has endorsed as the country’s total measurement provider for TV and digital video from next April.

Warner Music Group & Twitch in Partnership

Amazon owned livestream platform Twitch and Warner Music Group have joined in a partnership that will entail the launch of WMG artist channels, featuring exclusive content and the launch of a standalone WMG music space featuring premium music-centric programming.

Disney+ Could Surpass Netflix by 2026

A new analysis from Digital TV Research forecasts that Disney+ will surpass Netflix in global subscriptions by 2026. The report projects that Disney+ will add 140 million subs by 2026, bringing its total to 284 million, while Netflix is estimated to reach 271 million.

Pørni Scored at Norwegian Critics’ Awards

At the Norwegian Critics’ Awards last week, NRK’s Rod Knock won Best Norwegian TV drama of the year while Viaplay’s Pørni created by and starring Henriette Steenstrup won Best Actress and Best Comedy series.

DR Embarks on Digital Transformation

Denmark’s Radio will make significant changes to its organisation in connection its new digital strategy. DR Media will be closed down, and every tenth of DR’s employees will be reassigned.

Mediavision in the News

Interest in sports keeps growing in the Nordics

Football is the sport that most Nordic viewers are interested in watching: close to 25% of Nordic 15-74-year-olds express an interest in viewing football via TV/online video, according to Mediavision.

Analyse: 9 millioner nordiske hustande abonnerer på digitale medietjenester

75 pct. af hustandene i Norden har abonnement på enten tekst-, lyd- eller videotjenester. Streaming af levende billeder er mest udbredt, men lyd følger tæt med.

Hon leder HBO:s maxade comeback i Sverige

Streamingtjänsten HBO Nordic har tappat marknadsandelar i Sverige de senaste åren. Nu tror Europachefen Christina Sulebakk på en comeback med lanseringen av nya HBO Max.

Björn Ulvaeus bolag köper Perfect Day

Pophouse Entertainment, grundat av Björn Ulvaeus och Conni Jonsson, köper upp poddcastbolaget Perfect Day Media. De ska nu etablera sig på flera nya marknader – trots tidigare tung ekonomisk förlust.

Marie Nilsson: Hur många ljudboksaktörer kan den svenska marknaden svälja?

Ljudboksaktörernas kamp om lyssnarna hårdnar och i dag dansar de stora elefanterna i stort sett kring samma konsumenter. Marie Nilsson analyserar hur hållbar affärsmodellen för ljudböcker är.

Swedish audiobook streaming revenues growing

The Swedish audiobook market shows signs of strength according to Mediavision analysis. Total revenues for the Swedish audio streaming subscription market grew by SEK 100 million in H1 2021…

Is HBO Max the perfect match for the Nordic audience?

Mediavision concluded that HBO Max and Discovery+ combined would make a significantly stronger customer offering, based on Nordic consumer preferences.

Disney Plus breddar sig för att nå fler: ”I streamingvärlden är det 'vi mot alla'”

Oväntat mycket har hänt sedan Disney Plus tog klivet in på den svenska marknaden för ett år sedan, närmare bestämt den 15 september.

HBO's new streaming service starts in Oct

HBO’S new streaming service, HBO Max, will launch in Europe and Finland on October 26. At the same time, the HBO Nordic service, which has been operating since 2012, will be discontinued.

Prispress när HBO gör comeback i Sverige

Streamingjätten HBO gör omstart i Europa med nya satsningen HBO Max. Detta till ett lägre pris än föregångaren HBO Nordic.