International entertainment broadcasting group Modern Times Group (MTG) has widened the availability of its main OTT service Viaplay to the PlayStation 3 (PS3) gaming console for consumers in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
All PS3 users in the Nordic region will now have access to Viaplay’s rental service through consoles. All consumers with a PlayStation Plus subscription and a Viaplay subscription will be able to access Viaplay’s SVOD offering via the PS3.
In addition Viaplay is now offering a new ‘Download-to-go’ service which makes a large number of local and international titles available to download for 30 days after the initial download – currently on Apple iOS compatible devices.
Viaplay was launched as Viasat on Demand, an online video streaming service in Scandinavia, in May 2007 to give access to premium films, live sport events and TV series; in October 2008 it also became available through a set-top box for Viasat pay TV customers in the Nordic region. Rebranded as Viaplay in 2011, the service is establishing itself as a leading online video content provider for the region. Overall, the Nordic region presents an attractive environment for online video service providers: positive GDP growth, low piracy levels, a developed broadband infrastructure with high broadband penetration and a growing number of active connected living-room devices. IHS Screen Digest expects the household broadband penetration across Scandinavia to end 2012 from a low of 60 per cent in Finland to a high of 77 per cent in Norway and the number of active connected devices across the region to reach 3.9m. Given the strategic priority for the MTG to extend its pay TV offering to wider audiences it is obvious that customers should be able to access the Viaplay service through as many connected living room devices as possible. Since its launch Viaplay has been available on PCs, smartphones and tablets. Current deal follows the recent strategic deals in September 2012 which Viaplay made in collaboration with Accedo extending Viaplay’s offer to Panasonic, Samsung and LG Smart TV devices. Specifically the extension to new platforms comes as a strategic move to strengthen Viaplay’s market presence in response to the Nordic launch preparations of international video content providers such as American premium cable television network HBO and online video service provider Netflix as well as local Scandinavian players such as Filmnet in Sweden. New players are expected to provide their premium video services through a large number of connected devices – for example Netflix traditionally uses device availability as a competitive strength. It is essential for Viaplay to be prepared for a strong competition before the official launch of these services. In addition to extension to new platforms, MTG also continues to develop its extensive video content catalogue. Recently, MTG’s Viasat Broadcasting has signed a number of movie deals with 20th Century Fox, NBC Universal, Nordisk and SF Film. Under the extension agreement with the 20th Century Fox Viasat gets the second pay TV window of film content (following C-More’s exploitation of the rights) and catch-up rights to linear broadcasts. Viasat Broadcasting has also renewed two separate movie licensing agreements with NBCUniversal International Television Distribution for free TV and pay TV rights. The latter licensing agreement with NBCUniversal International Television Distribution is for the exclusive pay TV and SVOD rights in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland for current and library films. A multi-year licence agreement with Nordisk Film extends rights for exclusive library movies on pay TV for Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The deal means that Sony has stolen a march on rival Microsoft, which has been particularly active in making content deals for its console across Europe and North America, but is yet to sign a deal with Viaplay. The launch on the PS3 will see Viaplay’s movie rental service present on the console, and therefore does limit the potential for Sony to develop its own movie rental service in the region – as it has in other markets – but it may well be worth it if the presence of Viaplay’s SVoD offer helps to drive upsell to the PlayStation Plus subscription. IHS Screen Digest estimates that Scandinavia will end 2012 with roughly 1.6m installed PS3 devices.