Streaming services reinforced their market position, including local services that grew relatively faster than global players, says Mediavision in a report.

The analysis made by the leading Nordic media analyst Mediavision on behalf of Nordisk Film & TV Fond, covers the impact of the pandemic on cinema, traditional TV and online streaming during 2020. Short as well as long-term effects in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden on both supply and demand (e g consumers, actors and overall market) are also discussed.

Covid-19 has clearly accelerated the shift from traditional film & TV consumption to digital. However, different segments of the market have been impacted in contrasting ways according to the analysis.

The big winners were clearly the steaming services. In the race for online subscribers, several Nordic SVOD services, such as C More, Discovery+, TV2 Play in Denmark, TV2 Sumo in Norway as well as Finland’s Ruutu+, increased their market shares during 2020 [details not available]. NENT Group’s Viaplay consolidated its second place in the Nordics, and improved its subscription base by 33% to meet its 3 million paying customers’ target. However, although the relative growth of these players was strong, they were in most cases still outperformed by the US global services, especially Netflix, according to Mediavision.

Regarding online viewing, the local services also enjoyed a surge in daily reach during the pandemic. Both TV2 Play in Denmark and TV2 Sumo in Norway grew significantly, as did the pubcasters’ online platforms DR.TV, NRK.TV and SVT Play. These were all in the top in daily reach after Youtube and Netflix. In Finland, Yle Areena stayed in pole position after Youtube.

A similar positive trend for Nordic players was noticeable in the TVOD market, as Blockbuster in Denmark, Viaplay in Finland and Norway, as well as SF Anytime in Sweden were number one.

Contrasting to streamers that soared during the pandemic, cinemas in the Nordics were the most severely affected and lost more than a 50% of their admissions and spend during Q3 2020, before the second wave and attached cinema attendance restrictions were reinstated. As an overall result, revenue streams didn’t fully mitigate the losses in theatrical revenues.

As for traditional TV, viewing increased temporarily in the spring but “resumed its downturn later in the fall, in most target groups, according to trend,” said the Nordic data analyst.

“The pandemic has not changed the course of the market, albeit pushed its development” noted Marie Nilsson, Mediavision managing director.

Commenting on the VOD market, Nilsson stressed that although total online viewing increased in 2020, especially during the first phase of Covid-19, the pandemic had only a weak effect on the overall household penetration of streaming services. The Nordic online market had actually started to show clear signs of maturity ahead of the pandemic, with a slowing growth of household take-up. In Q3 2020, the household penetration grew slightly below 5% compared to the same period in 2019, when growth was more than 10%.

The Nordic region is among the most advanced in the world, in terms of SVOD penetration with close to 60% of the households having at least one subscription. “What we see now is also an increase in stacking” [subscriptions to more than one online service] said Nilsson, referring to Disney +’s launch in the Nordics in the fall 2020, that had a clear impact on the total number of SVOD subscriptions.

All in all, the Nordic households had close to 14 million subscriptions at the end of last year, and Disney+ had a strong impact on the overall SVOD growth, according to Mediavision analysis.

Looking ahead at industry trends enhanced by the pandemic, Nilsson said the continued disruption of the theatrical window will most likely benefit the Hollywood integrated groups such as Warner Media, Disney or Paramount, as they are able to look at revenue streams from all distribution channels, and possibly outweighing the eventual losses from theatrical, severely impacted by Covid-19. Theatrical is the loosing sector for now, but it will certainly bounce back when restrictions will be lifted says the media analyst. “We are all longing for the big screen experience,” Nilsson said.

Meanwhile, Netflix “the biggest winner during the pandemic, as dominant player in the SVOD space” will probably increasingly look at ways to control all rights upfront of its originals, and to beef up its offer of library titles, according to Nilsson. “For the local industry it will be increasingly important to fight for their IPs”, said Nilsson, underscoring the popularity of Nordic content among local audiences. “We knew this before the pandemic: quality content drives audiences!” she said.

This spring Nordic IP has been an important theme on the Fund's ‘Audiovisual Collaboration 2021’ agendas and will continue to be discussed the whole year.