Another major shakeup in the UK TV sports arena: Premier Sports, the company that operates several pay-TV sports channels (as well as FreeSports), is being acquired by Viaplay – a Nordic streaming platform.
With Viaplay planning to launch its streaming service in the UK this autumn, Premier Sports will now be getting Viaplay’s branding, and will eventually be combined in some way with Viaplay’s main streaming service, which includes Nordic dramas and more sports.
Premier Sports owns the rights to many significant sporting events, such as LaLiga, NASCAR, Scottish Cup and more, while Viaplay also owns the rights to UEFA national team football, NFL Ice Hockey and more.
Therefore the combined platform will become a major force in sports broadcasting and streaming in the UK.
Premier Sports is a set of pay-TV sports channels, that are available on Sky and its streaming service NOW (though not on Sky Glass), Virgin Media, and on the standalone website via the Premier Sports Player.
The channels that make-up Premier Sports are Premier Sports 1, Premier Sports 2 and BoxNation.
The channels feature a big range of sporting events, including La Liga, Scottish Cup, Scottish League Cup and Coppa Italia football; United Rugby Championship, Rugby Football League and Top 14 rugby; NASCAR motorsport and the Elite Ice Hockey League.
Premier Sports currently has a total of 222,000 paying UK subscribers to its pay-TV channels Premier Sports 1 and Premier Sports 2 and streaming service Premier Player.
The company also operates FreeSports, a free channel/streaming platform (with adverts), that covers a variety of sports categories, from selected football matches, to NASCAR, ice hockey, rugby, cricket and more.
FreeSports used to be available on both Freesat and Freeview, but has been removed from both platforms.
Therefore, it’s now only available via the website or the FreeSports app (or on Sky and Virgin Media, but those aren’t free platforms).
PremierSports And Viaplay Coming Together
Viaplay is a streaming service owned by the Viaplay Group, and is based in Stockholm. It focused on Scandinavian drama, comedy and crime shows and films.
The service is currently available in every Nordic and Baltic country, Poland, the US and the Netherlands, with plans to launch in the UK later this year.
As a result of Viaplay’s acquisition of Premier Sports, Viaplay will expand its UK offering at launch to two streaming packages:
- The Films & Series package will focus on the “best of Nordic storytelling” with Viaplay Originals and premium third-party content.
- The Total package will include Viaplay and Premier Sports’ combined sports line-up, alongside Viaplay’s Films & Series offering.
According to Viaplay, the acquisition will also deliver synergies in sports production, while boosting Viaplay’s local brand awareness amongst viewers, with Viaplay’s branding being added to Premier Sports’ channels.
Further details of Viaplay’s UK content, pricing and launch date will be announced in due course.
Richard Sweeney, Premier Sports CEO, said: “At Premier Sports, we’re proud to have created a dynamic, innovative sports streamer and broadcaster over the past 13 years.
“Our sale to Viaplay Group will dramatically increase the content available to new and existing subscribers. This is the start of an exciting new chapter in the development of the business, and is great news for our colleagues, customers and partners.”
Anders Jensen, Viaplay Group President and CEO, said: “This acquisition will put Viaplay firmly on the UK map and accelerate our development in this key market.
“Premier Sports has a loyal and expanding subscriber base, well-established distribution agreements and production capabilities, and a great sports portfolio that complements our own.
“There is also a big opportunity to make Viaplay’s wider offering, including our award-winning Viaplay Originals, available to Premier Sports’ subscribers.”