Viaplay retains F1 rights in Netherlands to 2029, renews in Nordics

(Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
(Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Viaplay Group has cemented its future in the Netherlands until at least 2029, after today (Tuesday) signing off a multi-year Formula 1 rights renewal that also covers its home Nordic markets.

Amid well-publicised financial struggles that has led to a wider international retreat over the past year, Stockholm-based Viaplay has remained adamant that the Netherlands is among its core markets and the aggressive bid to retain F1 rights, holding off strong competition from telco Ziggo, has underlined that commitment.

The new contract runs from 2025 to 2029 and covers six markets: the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. News of the five-year deal in the Netherlands first surfaced in the middle of this month.

All practice and qualifying sessions, F1 Sprint events and Grands Prix will be shown live across Viaplay platforms in all markets.

Throughout the course of the new contract in the Netherlands, Viaplay and F1 said they will continue with their partnership around F1 TV Pro, the premium version of the series’ in-house streaming service.

Announced last September, and beginning with the 2024 season, F1 TV Pro is now accessible to Viaplay customers in the Netherlands as part of their existing subscriptions, albeit it remains available in the country as a stand-alone product. Through F1 TV Pro, Viaplay viewers are able to access additional features such as international commentary, multiple onboard cameras, Pit Lane and Paddock feeds, and in-race radio communications.

While Viaplay also holds rights to the Bundesliga, Premier League and PDC darts, Formula 1 is seen as the main driver of its Dutch business. The broadcaster has lent heavily on the popularity of three-time world champion Max Verstappen, signing him up to an exclusive content deal and putting its logo on his cap as part of a brand ambassador deal.

Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, Viaplay president and chief executive, said today: “This shows Viaplay Group’s commitment to competing for the long term and growing profitably in the Netherlands and Nordics, and to offering our viewers the most attractive and relevant content available anywhere.”

Viaplay launched in the Netherlands in March 2022 and its biggest outlay by far has been on F1 rights, replacing Ziggo for the 2022-24 cycle. That deal made F1 the second-most valuable sports media rights property in the country after the Eredivisie, and it performs well for the broadcaster amid the heightened interested sparked by Verstappen’s domination and the return of the Dutch Grand Prix to the calendar in 2021 after a 35-year hiatus.

F1 said today that there were around 12 million unique television viewers of coverage in the Netherlands last year, up 35 per cent year-on-year. Across Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, meanwhile, there were 5.5 million unique viewers.

Ian Holmes, F1’s director of media rights and content creation, said: “Formula 1 and Viaplay Group share a joint vision to create a world-class broadcast experience which brings our fans the drama and excitement of F1. It’s because of this dedication to quality programming that we have consistently seen Viaplay’s viewership increase year on year amongst a passionate fanbase which only continues to grow.

“This historic deal, also incorporating F1 TV Pro, F1’s own streaming offering, will see F1 and Viaplay continue to push the boundaries of innovation, so our fans never miss a moment of wheel-to-wheel action for years to come.”

At the start of this month, Viaplay unveiled a linear TV partnership with Talpa Network that rebrands the commercial broadcaster’s SBS9 channel as Viaplay TV. It could offer a window of greater exposure for the F1 content. The two broadcasters will share the revenues from the deal and will look to add more sports content to their joint portfolio.

At the start of the year, Viaplay named Roger Lodewick as its senior vice-president and chief executive in the Netherlands, reporting to Peter Nørrelund, the broadcaster’s group executive vice-president and chief sports and business development officer.

Read this (SportBusiness Media): Next F1 tender to shape Dutch media market for years to come