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Viaplay’s streaming subscribers rise 83%, posts quarterly loss

Swedish media company Viaplay Group on Tuesday fell to a quarterly loss even though it reported an 83% year-on-year rise in streaming subscribers in the fourth quarter, as it continued its costly expansion to more countries.

Shares of the company were down 6%.

The group posted an adjusted quarterly operating loss of 294 million Swedish crowns ($28 million), compared with a profit of 69 million crowns a year earlier, including a 420 million hit from international expansion.

“You could easily be tempted to pull the handbrake and invest less to please short term expectations on profits, and then we give away future opportunities,” Chief Executive Officer Anders Jensen said in an interview.

“We will grow our profits this year in our Nordic base and the losses in our new markets will come down substantially this year,” he said.

The company has also been spending heavily on producing original Nordic noir crime stories such as “The Viking” and getting rights to sporting events as it expands to more countries.

Viaplay, which competes with bigger rivals such as Netflix and Disney+, said subscribers rose to 7.3 million in the quarter.

Net sales rose 24% to 4.67 billion crowns from 3.55 million crowns a year earlier.

To save cash, Viaplay’s board has proposed that no annual cash dividend be paid for 2022.

“We think we are going to need to hit 2025 and onwards before dividend is a good way to create value for our shareholders,” Jensen said. Reuters

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