Scandinavian broadcaster has appointed DAZN EVP of rights Edward Breeze to head up its UK sports offering

Richard Sweeney Premier Sports

Viaplay has completed its acquisition of Premier Sports, ahead of launching in the UK this autumn.

The deal sees the Scandinavian broadcaster pick up a major group of sports rights for the UK, including include LaLiga, Scottish Cup, Scottish League Cup, UEFA national team, and Coppa Italia football; United Rugby Championship, Rugby Football League and Top 14 rugby; Nascar; and the Elite Ice Hockey League.

The national team football includes Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland men’s games from 2022 until 2024, with deals for that and the next three seasons of LaLiga only being agreed in the last two months.

Premier Sports currently has a total of 222,000 paying subscribers to its pay-TV channels Premier Sports 1 and Premier Sports 2 and streaming service Premier Player. It also operates free-to-air channel FreeSports, and all its platforms will receive Viaplay branding while continuing to be available through their current distribution partners. The content line-up will eventually be expanded to include Viaplay’s TV and film offerings. 

Viaplay UK sports rights pre-Premier Sports acquisition

 - UEFA national team football: 2024 to 2028
 - NHL ice hockey: 2022 to 2027
 - KSW mixed martial arts: 2022 to 2025
 - IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship: 2024 to 2028
 - Champions Hockey League: 2023/2024 to 2027/2028
 - ISU figure skating and speed skating: 2023 to 2028 (ISU World Figure Skating Championships from 2024)
 - EHF European Handball Championship, EHF Champions League and EHF European League (men and women): 2022 to 2030
 - CEV EuroVolley, CEV Champions League, CEV EuroBeachVolley and additional CEV volleyball competitions: 2022 to 2026
 - World Athletics Continental Tour Gold: 2023 to 2029
 - World Athletics Indoor Tour: 2023
 - FIS snowboard and freestyle: 2022 to 2026 (non-exclusive)

Premier Sports is majority owned by Setanta Sports, and its revenues grew by 33% in 2021 to reach £26.4m. All of its 23 full-time employees are expected to join Viaplay, once the deal, which values Premier Sports at £30m on a cash and debt-free basis, is concluded.

This agreement comes ahead of Viaplay’s expected launch in the UK this autumn. The pricing and launch date are yet to be confirmed, but this acquisition means that it will offer two streaming packages: the Films & Series package focused on the ‘best of Nordic storytelling’ with Viaplay Originals and premium third-party content, and the Total package including Viaplay and Premier Sports’ combined sports line-up, alongside Viaplay’s Films & Series offering. 

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. We have secured this growing and profitable business at an attractive valuation. This is a fast and effective route to building an even stronger position for Viaplay in the UK.”

Richard Sweeney, Premier Sports CEO and pictured above, added: “At Premier Sports, we’re proud to have created a dynamic, innovative sports streamer and broadcaster over the past 13 years. From modest beginnings, and through the hard work and dedication of our people, we have continually grown the company, and today we have an extensive portfolio of must-see live sports that entertain loyal customers across the UK. 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.”

Edward Breeze Viaplay

Edward Breeze

Meanwhile, Edward Breeze will leave his role as DAZN EVP of rights to become Viaplay’s SVP and head of sports UK this October. Breeze, who has also worked for Perform, Inform and Octagon before his seven years at DAZN, will be based in London and report to Viaplay Group chief sports officer Peter Nørrelund as part of its sports leadership team.

Breeze said: “I’m thrilled to join Viaplay Group. I’ve been impressed by the way the company is successfully launching in new countries, acquiring high-profile sports rights and constantly developing synergies between markets. I like the big ambitions and am looking forward to the adventures and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Nørrelund commented: “We’re pleased to welcome Edward to Viaplay’s experienced and talented sports team. His in-depth knowledge of streaming, sports and the local market makes him an ideal fit as we launch in the UK. Live sport is in our DNA and we will offer UK viewers a very attractive line-up – with much more to come.”