Viaplay CEO Anders Jensen expects sports rights to complement its other content in the UK, following the company’s acquisition of Premier Sports .
Jensen made clear that Viaplay doesn’t want to rely solely on sport to attract subscribers, instead seeing it as part of a portfolio alongside its TV and film offering. With this in mind, the Viaplay chief played down the chances of his company becoming involved in the battle for Premier League rights in the near future.
The Premier Little league renewed its rights deals with Sky Sports activities, BT Sport, Prime Video, and the BBC without an auction last year . The effects of the pandemic were given as the reason to avoid competition for the agreement running until the end of the 2024/25 season.
The Premier Sports acquisition adds La Liga, Scottish Cup, Scottish League Cup UEFA national team football until 2024, and Coppa Italia football; United Rugby Championship, Rugby Football League and Top 14 rugby; NASCAR motorsport; and the Elite Ice Hockey League to Viaplay’s UK portfolio, which already included UEFA national team football from 2024 to 2028, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, skating, handball, volleyball, athletics, and snowboarding.
Jensen told Broadcast Sport : “For us to start to think about the Premier Little league in the UK based on our starting point and our ambitions to create return, no, it’s not very attractive. I don’t think that it is a proven model if you’re not an established player, like a Sky or somebody else. I think there are other ways to create value for the consumer. ”
Instead Jensen is looking for Viaplay to use sports to complement its existing entertainment content: “I have no doubt in my mind when it comes to the importance and the value of sports as a way of connecting with customers, with fans, and with viewers. It is a very, very strong proposition, but it cannot be sports alone, because sports rights come and go. You have to be able to say no if it becomes too expensive. It’s a portfolio that you’re managing. ”
He added: “If you then manage that and you combine it with an entertainment portfolio that stands out, then you can really create an unique proposition that allows you to both grow and make money. So I don’t think sports is the next battleground. I think it’s just a matter of, of carving out a position within sports activities that makes you that makes a person unique…it’s the combination of unique original content and sports that makes us stand out. ”
When it comes to Premier Sports’ specific UK rights, the highlights of which include UEFA men’s nationwide team football from Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and more as well as LaLiga, Jensen explained Viaplay’s strategy: “It’s going to be a very attractive mix. You mentioned the UEFA rights, which we’ve acquired from 2024 [and Premier Sports has until then]. So beginning this fall, and for the most part of the decade, this is something that’s going to be with us. We can work with those national teams in Northern Ireland, Wales plus Scotland in a great way.
“La Liga is very complementary to that and has just been renewed by Leading Sports, but there is also rugby and there are more niche sports, like winter sports, where we have a stronghold. All of that makes us quite distinctive in a world where not everything can be about the Premier League.
“It’s very cost efficient, which I think is something that’s going to be very, very important for the coming years when household economies are under pressure. If you’re a Scottish soccer fan and you can get access to everything that we will bring for the kind of prices that we’re looking at, it’s going to be value added for households if they want to repurpose their money in more and more financially depressed times. ”