TV coverage of the Championship now looks to be heading back to square one after Viaplay Group announced that they’d be pulling out of all UK markets.
It was confirmed earlier this week that the broadcaster would be holding a full-scale review of their ‘full year 2023 outlook’ after suffering heavy losses.
Only this year, the company took over from Premier Sports, showing a Championship fixture on most Monday nights, along with holding the rights to some Challenge Cup clashes.
But after expansion like that, the company suffered a huge loss of £24.1 million, leading to a new CEO – and other board members – being put in place. The decision has now been made to withdraw from various markets, including the UK.
Championship coverage in tatters
25% of Viaplay’s staff have been made redundant as a result of the company’s losses, and the ‘core’ markets are now what the Nordic-based broadcaster are focusing on.
As a result, concerns have been raised of where the coverage of the Championship will now come from. Viaplay are currently the only external broadcaster with the rights to show the second tier.
The only other live coverage including video comes via OurLeague, which the RFL own and hand pick which games they want to show.
It’s expected that Viaplay, who will have signed a contract to do so, will see out the 2023 season in the UK market. There are Monday night games scheduled for the next three rounds.
They do not have any rights to this weekend’s Challenge Cup semi-finals though, last showing Leigh Leopards’ win at York Knights in the last eight.
Viaplay CEO confirms withdrawal from UK market
Issuing a lengthy statement on the broadcaster’s website, recently appointed CEO and President Jorgen Madsen Lindemann confirmed the change in tack.
It came amongst an interim report of findings from between January and June of this year, which didn’t make for pleasant reading from their point of view.
The statement, in part, said: “We are today announcing a new strategy and plan, which includes, but is not limited to, focusing on our core Nordic, Netherlands and Viaplay Select operations; downsizing, partnering or exiting our other international markets; undertaking a major cost reduction programme.
“The content investments that have been made are not all paying off, and are committed in the short and medium term.
“Going forward, our focus will be on the Nordic markets with the new operating model in place, on the right content mix, on the development of our soon to be profitable Dutch operations, and on the sale of our content internationally through Viaplay Select.
“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.
“We have had to take a number of immediate decisions for the sake of the future of our business. This regrettably means letting go of more than 25% of our people.”