A Nent in Netflix’s Armour

Image Credit: Getty Images, tverovski.

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

The number of streaming subscribers in western Europe overtook Pay-TV customers last year for the first time.

That trend has served giants like Netflix and Disney, who have scooped up the lion’s share of subscribers.

Amidst the flurry of U.S. dominance, there is one Swedish standout. Stockholm-based Nordic Entertainment Group (“Nent”) is generating more revenue than top American rival Netflix. Valhalla awaits.

May the Norse Be With You

In years past, Hollywood would simply sell its content to European rivals. Now, with the U.S. market relatively saturated, streaming giants have invaded foreign lands to drive growth.

And it’s worked. Of the 141 million streaming subscribers in Western Europe, 86% of them belong to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. Netflix won over foreign markets like Germany and France by pouring money into original content: it has $17 billion budgeted for global shows this year alone, or eight times what the BBC spends.

But while they’ve conquered Britain, France, and Germany — but America’s streaming giants are facing a Viking resistance in the north. In Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway, Nent’s Viaplay streaming service is within striking distance of Netflix’s 4.3 million subscribers.

  • Nent boasts 3 million subs, making it the only domestic streaming service in all of Western Europe to have a second-place audience share in its home market.
  • Nent makes more revenue in Scandinavia than Netflix by offering higher-priced sports packages. Rights to the English Premier League — a ratings Mjölnir (that’s Thor’s hammer) in Europe — don’t hurt.

Come Original: Now Nent is eyeing a launch in the U.S., and 10 other territories, as a specialist in Nordic drama. The plan is 10.5 million subscribers by 2025, and 4.5 of those outside the Noric countries. It’s raising $415 million to finance the rollout.

The Takeaway:

“If you don’t copy some of [Netflix] with pride, then you’re making a mistake,” said Jensen. The question is, when his “conservative” European counterparts wake up to the same conclusion, will it be too late?