Scotland national team broadcaster Viaplay announces withdrawal from UK

The Nordic broadcaster says it has implemented a new strategy in a bid to address financial difficulties.

Viaplay has confirmed that it is pulling out of the UK market as part of a major cost-cutting exercise.

The Nordic broadcaster currently has the rights to screen and stream all matches involving the Scotland men’s national team from 2024 to 2028 and is title sponsor for the Scottish League Cup.

It also shows some Scottish Cup matches, alongside BBC Scotland, and televised last season’s United Rugby Championship featuring Edinburgh and Glasgow.

STV News understands that all payments to the SPFL as part of Viaplay’s current deal with the league body are up to date and that Viaplay Cup games will continue to be shown as usual despite the Nordic broadcaster’s financial difficulties.

The Scottish Football Association is also understood to be relaxed about the situation due to the way that money for broadcasting Scotland internationals is distributed to the national governing body.

Viaplay says its new strategy involves focusing on its “core, Nordic, Netherlands and Viaplay Select operations”.

Some 25% of Viaplay’s staff will be made redundant following the decision.

It remains to be seen exactly how the development will impact Scottish football in the short term.

A spokesperson for Viaplay said: “We have announced a new strategic plan where Viaplay Group’s focus going forward will be in the Nordic markets, in the Netherlands and on our Viaplay Select business.

“We have initiated a strategic review for our other International markets, including the UK, where we will seek optimal solutions for our operations, including partnerships.

“Until then it is business as usual, what our customers can watch on Viaplay today will be there tomorrow too. As soon as we have any updates, we will of course communicate.”

Viaplay branding during the Viaplay Cup final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park in February.

Viaplay acquired previous League Cup sponsor and broadcaster Premier Sports last year and took over the rights to show the competition until 2027, while the deal for Scotland matches – brokered through UEFA – runs until 2028.

UEFA said it is aware of the announcement made by Viaplay and is in contact with relevant stakeholders.

Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, Viaplay’s president and CEO, said the company had to take a number of immediate decisions for the sake of the future of its business.

He said: “We are focusing our attention and resources on those markets where we can compete for the long term, and ensuring that our products are relevant, popular and generate healthy returns.

“The weakness in the advertising markets and currency exchange rates are additional factors that we must live with.

“The international expansion assumptions, including the timelines to profitability, have also been pushed materially into the future since the expansion started. We are moving quickly to address all of these challenges.”

Football match rights are sold through UEFA’s centralised national association media rights sales process, under which UEFA takes sole responsibility for the marketing and sales of broadcast rights for all 55 European nations’ matches.

Each nation is guaranteed a set amount as a result of the centralised approach.  

Gillian Mackay, Scottish Green MSP for Central Scotland, called on the SFA and broadcasters to work together to ensure a deal is reached to show future international matches.

She tweeted: “Our national team is for all of us, but far too many people are being priced out of our beautiful game.”

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