Internet users in the Nordic countries—Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden—are quickly developing a taste for online movie subscriptions and purchases. Across these four nations, visits to websites offering films and other video content for sale leapt 190% between June 2012 and June 2013, according to comScore Media Metrix.
In mid-2013, Denmark boasted the largest number of web users in the region going to retail movie sites—some 700,000, according to comScore, and nearly double the number a year earlier. But the smallest markets, Finland and Norway, demonstrated the most remarkable growth during the year, with traffic to such sites up 271% and 981%, respectively.
The arrival of Netflix seems to have given the market a major push. Its launch in October 2012 offered an estimated 10 million broadband homes in the region direct access to movies and TV shows from US, European and national broadcasters and film studios. Subscribers can also watch Netflix content on a range of other web-enabled devices, such as smart TVs, Blu-ray players, tablets and smartphones. By June 2013, Netflix reached 1.5 million internet users in the Nordics, comScore reported.
The “Netflix effect” is evident in Sweden, for example. Mediavision noted that 500,000 Swedish households had a subscription to a web TV or streaming service in March 2013, three times more than before Netflix entered the market. According to Mediavision, this rapid growth was “primarily driven by Netflix.” The “MMS Trend & Tema” report prepared by Mediamätning i Skandinavien estimated that 645,000 people in Sweden ages 9 to 99 had access to Netflix content in Q1 2013—making it the leading VOD service in the country.
Not all providers of online movie services have fared so well in the Nordics, though. While Netflix enjoyed impressive growth in the year to June, Lovefilm, the rent-by-mail service owned by Amazon, announced the closure of its operations in Denmark, Norway and Sweden as of August 2013. According to IHS Screen Digest, Lovefilm had about 160,000 subscribers in these countries in 2012, but had struggled to duplicate its success in the UK, its home country. Lovefilm’s departure leaves Netflix with a clear advantage in the market, though some local providers, such as Viaplay and HBO Nordic, also saw an increase in audience numbers in Q1 2013.
In many respects, the impact of online subscription movie services in the Nordics seems long overdue. In Sweden, for example, the proportion of internet users who had downloaded, recorded or stored a movie or TV program on a laptop or netbook stood at just 17% in December 2012, according to Motorola Mobility. Fewer than 10% of web users had used a tablet or smartphone to capture such content.