Viaplay, the popular Nordic broadcaster, has recently made a surprising and unfortunate announcement that it will be pulling out of its coverage of sports in the UK, including broadcasting Scotland men’s matches and the Scottish League Cup.
The move comes as the company faces financial struggles and is set to lay off a quarter of its staff in an effort to cut costs.
The decision also means an end to Viaplay’s sponsorship of the League Cup, which they held until now.
The Nordic broadcaster had a deal in place to televise Scotland games until 2028, but this has been terminated with the company’s decision to exit the UK market.
CEO Jorgen Madsen Lindemann stated that Viaplay will also be withdrawing from Poland, the Baltics, the US, and Canada, in an effort to refocus on its core markets in the Nordics and the Netherlands.
The withdrawal from these markets will likely be executed through disposal, partnerships, or business winding down.
The repercussions of this decision are significant, especially for the broadcasting of Scottish football. Matches scheduled to be shown live in the League Cup, like Motherwell against Queen’s Park, may face uncertainties.
However, the BBC has confirmed that all payments to the Scottish Professional Football League are up to date, and they anticipate matches will be broadcast as planned for the current season.
Viaplay’s involvement in Scottish sports extends beyond just football. Last year, the company acquired Premier Sports and its broadcasting rights, including last season’s United Rugby Championship featuring Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Viaplay also has a deal with BBC Scotland to broadcast the Scottish Cup until next year and held the rights to show the League Cup until 2027.
The decision to withdraw from the UK market and lay off employees comes amidst financial losses and challenging market conditions.
Viaplay’s CEO cited macroeconomic pressures, rising content costs, including higher original content expenses and sports rights inflation, and adverse currency effects as factors contributing to the company’s financial difficulties.
As a result of these challenges, Viaplay now projects full-year group operating losses to be around SEK 850-1,050m (£64m-£75m) for 2023.
The company’s focus moving forward will be on markets where it believes it can compete successfully in the long term. This strategic shift is essential for securing the future of Viaplay’s business.
The impact of Viaplay’s decision to exit the UK sports market is still unfolding, and stakeholders such as the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) and the Scottish Football Association (SFA) are yet to comment on the situation.
Fans, broadcasters, and the football community are closely watching how this decision will affect the availability of live coverage for Scottish football matches and tournaments in the future.
In conclusion, Viaplay’s decision to withdraw its sports coverage from the UK, including Scotland men’s matches and the Scottish League Cup, is a significant blow to many football fans.
The company’s financial struggles and the need to cut costs have forced them to make some tough choices, resulting in layoffs and a refocusing of their efforts on their core markets.
As the situation develops, it remains to be seen how this move will impact the broadcasting landscape for Scottish sports and other markets affected by Viaplay’s withdrawal.