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Sports broadcaster Viaplay confirms plans to exit UK market

Sports broadcaster Viaplay confirms plans to exit UK market
© Reuters
Nordic streaming service Viaplay tells investors that it will exit the UK market amid increasing financial pressure.

Nordic broadcaster Viaplay has confirmed that it will leave the UK market less than nine months after launching amid increasing financial pressure.

A year ago Viaplay acquired the UK and Ireland operations of Premier Sports in a deal worth around £30m, rolling out the Viaplay branding in November of that year in the UK while maintaining the Premier Sports identity in Ireland.

The offering comprises three linear TV channels broadcasting sport, as well as a streaming service that includes sport plus an extensive library of Scandinavian programmes and films.

In a presentation to investors early on Thursday, the company said that it would be streamlining the business with a "portfolio optimisation" strategy that would see it leave all international markets except for the Nordics and the Netherlands.

As a result, it plans to leave the UK in short order either through 'disposal, partnering or winding down the business'.

Viaplay currently holds the UK broadcasting rights to a number of high-profile properties, including La Liga, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup, Germany's DFB-Pokal, the Coppa Italia and most UEFA national side matches apart from those involving England, as well as Top 14 rugby, the PDC European darts tour and the NHL.

An outright sale of the operation to another broadcaster is one option; DAZN is one potential suitor, although a larger broadcaster such as Sky or TNT could complete an acquisition and subsume all of Viaplay's rights into its existing offering.

Alternatively Viaplay could sell on or sub-license the various rights it holds to multiple broadcasters.

The broadcaster's UK operation, including the transmission of its linear TV channels, is expected to continue uninterrupted until a solution is found, although the timing of the announcement implies that a deal - or deals - would ideally be reached in time for the start of the new football season next month.

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