Long reads

The Euro50 Q&A: Niclas Ekdahl, Modern Times Group

Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of Modern Times Group’s Viaplay service, is responsible for monetising content across Viasat’s three pay TV businesses. He has secured multi-platform content agreements with various channel operators, including a four year deal with Fox for approximately 1,600 hours of premium content for SVOD, catch-up TV and free TV. He has also overseen various sports rights, including major European football league events. He has also overseen the commercial deployment of Viasat’s OTT service Viaplay which delivers premium TV, sports and movies. Viaplay’s SVOD business accounted for about 35% of MTG’s total net Nordic pay TV subscriber intake between January 2010 and March 2010.

Age 41

Education BSc(Econ) from the University of Stockholm.

Previous positions Senior vice-president, pay TV channels & VOD (MTG); vice-president, pay TV channels & VOD (MTG); head of pay TV (MTG); head of creative services (MTG); central marketing manager (MTG); management trainee (MTG); co-founder (Incirco); creative director, Kundskaparna; project Manager, IKEA; financial controller, Tjarnbergs.

Last year’s highlights The launch of our Viaplay service across Scandinavia, which offers a full online subscription pay-TV service for premium TV, movies and sports. With an unrivalled line-up of live sports including Champions League football, NHL ice hockey, English Premier League football and Formula 1 motor racing, alongside exclusive US studio movie and TV content, we are very well-positioned to reap the benefits of the rising popularity of online video. The service is available on PCs, tablets, smart phones, smart TVs and is offered both to our satellite subscribers as our ‘TV Everywhere’ service, as well as to the wider broadband-connected population.

Most significant industry development The very sad  loss of Steve Jobs, which will in my mind have the single most significant impact of any change this year on the media and technology industries moving forward.

Goals for next year Growth, growth and more growth for Viaplay!

Industry challenges and opportunities For anyone working in the online world, I believe that the key challenge is to convince end-users to continue to pay for premium content as it becomes more and more available in the online world. This will be done by securing top-quality and, wherever possible, exclusive content for full online utilisation, combined with technical scalability and stability. For us at MTG with both free and pay TV channels and platforms under one roof, we have a huge opportunity to benefit from the migration to the non-linear online environment.

Alternative career choice Ice hockey player.

TV character most identified with When I was growing up, it was always Scrooge McDuck.

Most admired personality Johnny Depp. He seems to be a genuinely considerate human being who has not been negatively affected by his enormous success.

Life outside work The little time that I have, I prefer to spend with my family. I also enjoy travel, sports and DIY at my summer house in Sweden.

Tags: MTG, Sweden

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