- March 12, 2014
- Posted by: Kauser Kanji
- Category: 50 VOD Professionals
Who are the fifty most influential people working in the new television sector in the Nordics? Here’s our final list!
Take a look at the Scandinavian online television industry and you’ll see plenty of good things: beautiful user interfaces from Magine, robust internet technologies from Ericsson, innovative TV Everywhere solutions from Xstream and new VOD services from, for example, Com Hem and Ostmodern who together recently launched Cirkus.
These products are being delivered to an increasingly engaged audience. Consider that in Denmark, Netflix already has over 400,000 subscribers; YouSee from the TDC Group has more than 300,000 frequent users; SVT Play welcomes four million unique viewers a week – of which 40% access the service through mobile devices – and VGTV’s online video series, Fanthomas, recorded over 18 million views on the platform.
In short, the Nordic market is kicking ass!
So who are the people behind these New TV innovations? Today, VOD Professional is honoured to present 50 VOD Professionals Nordic; a list of the most influential people working in the sector and the region. We received nearly one hundred nominations from you (thanks!) and our judges – senior industry execs themselves – met in Copenhagen two weeks ago to decide the rankings.
Tell us what you think in the comments box below or via Twitter using the hashtag #50VODProfessionals.
Bringing Content to the People
Myklebust’s longevity in the industry coupled with leading the charge in bringing fantastic NRK video applications to the people of Norway, secured him the top spot with our judges. Heading IP distribution, Myklebust focuses his attention on new media platforms, such as mobile and tablet. His drive to make the company’s vast collection of content available across devices reinforces NRK’s position as the largest media organisation in Norway.
Driving the OTT Cloud Platform
Hjelmstedt founded Magine, the cloud-based service for watching live and catch-up TV in the same place, in 2010 and has been one of the most prominent figures in the Nordic VOD industry ever since. Having achieved recognition from international media such as Bloomberg and The Guardian, Hjelmstedt has overseen two years of exceptional growth at the company. After launching commercially in its native Sweden, Magine hosts some of the world’s best-known channels, including Disney, Discovery, BBC and CNN International.
Passionate about VOD Innovation
Viaplay is one of Scandinavia’s leading online services for TV, Film and Sport and Ekdahl is at the helm of the ship. Joining MTG in 2002, Ekdahl was responsible for launching Viasat on Demand in 2007, which then evolved into Viaplay. Available across platforms, including PC, smartphones, tablets, smart TV’s and set-top-boxes, the company won Best Use of OTT by a Pay TV Operator for their Viaplay Box at the Connected TV World Summit 2013.
Strategic Leader of Video Services
Caddeo joined Com Hem as CTO and helped reshape the company into the most advanced operator in the Nordic market. In 2013, Com Hem, Sweden’s largest pay-TV operator, successfully launched a unique TV product on cable, IPTV, web, tablets and smart phones, pushed the limit of broadband to a level where over 1 million households in Sweden can get at least a 500 Mbps connection and joined forces with Ostmodern in launching Cirkus, a VOD service specialising in British content.
A Real VOD Professional
A veteran of the on-demand industry, Berge is responsible for the entertainment platform Canal Digital GO! which is available to Canal Digital customers on both cable and satellite. With more than 2.9 million Nordic households using the service, Berge – the Director of On-Demand Operations – helps ensure that high-quality content is available to subscribers wherever they are, on the device of their choice. He has been with Canal Digital since 2006.
Leading Denmark’s TVOD Powerhouse
Hald leads the VOD department at the TDC Group and is responsible for developing the Danish company’s digital entertainment proposition. He oversees VOD deals with over 50 licensors and is leading a strategy that places premium non-linear content on both YouSee Cable and the TDC IPTV platform. The TDC Group currently has more than 50% market share on transactional VOD purchases and recently announced an exclusive license of the BLOCKBUSTER brand in Denmark.
Builds Fantastic Products and Services
Helbo is the CTO of the Danish TV and Internet distributor Stofa, who were the first company in Denmark to develop and promote catch-up video. During his 12 years with the organisation Helbo has led the process of in-house development, creating a VOD platform which works on both FTTH and HFC platforms. From our understanding, the original Stofa VOD solution also constituted the basis of further development of other acclaimed services such as Web TV.
Pioneer in Swedish Broadcasting
Having held the position of Development Manager, Kopsen helped to build SVT Play into one of Sweden’s leading OTT services. With approximately 4 million unique viewers a week, of which 40% access the service through mobile devices, Kopsen has steered his team with an emphasis on quality, reliability and speed and also has spearheaded a strategy which introduced SVT’s linear channels onto the web. Kopsen is currently the Acting CTO of SVT Interactive.
Strategic Thinker in Bringing in More Business
Having joined the Norwegian television station in 2000, Bruarøy has had a leading role in TV2’s streaming services and its many technical upgrades, version releases and multiplatform rollouts. Working with some of the world’s leading content owners, his perspective has been to connect content, technology and business models to improve and build new products under the TV2 banner, and in doing so has seen the subscriber count of the online platform grow to over 100,000.
The SVOD King
Whilst a majority of Netflix’s staff reside in the US, our judges couldn’t leave the subscription giant out of this list. Available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland since September 2012, our panel’s comments echo that of the rest of globe in that Netflix is a power-house that influences everything anyone else does. With 44 million subscribers globally (and 400,000 in Denmark alone), Netflix is planning ‘substantial expansion’ into international markets this year. Watch out.
New Media Evangelist
In 2009 Østgård developed a new digital roadmap for NRK, which laid the foundation for the broadcaster’s online services as we know them today. He was then put in charge of this strategy, where he led the company’s new media department until 2014. During this period, NRK launched a new VOD service that was voted ‘Innovation of the Year’ by the Norwegian Media Companies’ Association. Østgård personally was awarded Norwegian ‘Digital Head of the Year’ at the Norwegian Online News Association.
With 60% of Danish TV viewers saying they would be watching TV online within the next three years, DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation) is committed to making its vast collection of content available on as many devices as possible. As Streaming Manager Jensen is in charge for the ensuring video content successfully makes it to both web and connected devices, and is currently working on DR’s TV applications as well as being responsible for the HBBtv pilot for Connected TV’s.
Pay TV Pioneer
TeliaSonera is one of the world’s major telecom operators, and boasts over 186 million subscribers across the globe. Play+, the group’s video on demand service, was launched in 2012 in Sweden and gives IPTV subscriber’s access to over 30 TV channels plus a wide selection of over 2,500 movies that can be streamed onto web, tablet and smartphone. Perander acts as the Senior Business Manager of Pay TV at TeliaSonera.
Services in Triplicate
Altibox, a triple-play provider based in Norway, gives customers the freedom to access content on web, mobile and tablet and is currently in the midst of redesigning its film portal to make it more attractive, simpler to navigate and giving it better search functionality. Heading Platform Services at the cable operator is Johnsen who, alongside his team, is responsible for all service and communication platforms.
Forward Thinking Leader of SF Anytime
SF Anytime is a TVOD service available in the Nordic countries and belongs to the Bonnier Group. Founded in 2002, the company has around 30 partners including the TeliaSonera Group, Com Hem, Boxer, Stofa and Waoo. Dahllöf has been with SF Anytime since 2007 and has had a key role in growing it into SF Anytime to the leading VOD service it is today, as well as setting firm standards for the legal digital film market by producing a high quality product that caters for all audiences.
Platform and Media Maker
Thorup founded Xstream back in 1999 and continues to run the organisation as one of the leading providers of OTT and TV Everywhere services globally. Working with companies such as Disney, Fuhu, Pathé and Canal Digital, Xstream aims to deliver simpler, smarter OTT solutions. Under Thorup’s leadership Xstream have won several industry awards, including the IAIR award for best company in leadership and innovation in OTT, and have recently taken on a majority shareholder – the private equity firm, Capidea.
Streaming Architect and Expert
As Solutions Architect, Melin is responsible for creating a slick and easy to use interface on the digital boxes of the Teracom Group – namely Boxer and PlusTV. With the company offering a massive collection of content across the two services, Melin aims to simplify the user experience and, since joining the company in 2012, has brought search functionality and content recommendation to STB’s, phones and tablets.
Great Knowledge of Product
“OTT has become as good as a traditional broadcast experience” says Kaj af Kleen, CTO at Viaplay, and the Nordic streaming service sure do seem to be living by this mantra. Working with a huge number of local and international content providers, Viaplay is available on a range of platforms and offers a huge selection of TV, movies and live sports events. Hanson is the Product Manager for Viaplay’s OTT set-top box and previously managed connected TVs and game consoles.
Leading the VOD Charge
Lantz is the CEO and co-founder of Accedo, a globally recognised leader in TV Application Solutions. As head of the company, Lantz has been instrumental in driving the industry forward offering innovative solutions to enable efficient roll-out of applications and services across multiple devices, and advising customers how to most effectively benefit from new opportunities. Lantz has also developed a number of strategic partnerships with major players and has extensive experience in the converging telecom and media industries.
Key Player at Com Hem
Around 40%, or 1.75 million, of Sweden’s households are connected to Com Hem’s network which gives access to a broad range of television services. Englund, who joined the triple-play provider in 2010, is right at the heart of VOD operations and is highly regarded by colleagues. We’re told that she influenced the UX of Com Hem’s first on-demand platform through her creativity and knowledge of content management, which brings value to both customer and company.
Clara Mai ...
Leading TDC Group Product Development
Kunstmann is Head of Development for OTT & TV at the TDC Group, Denmark’s largest cable operator with more than two million customers, and has worked with digital media customer experience and satisfaction for more than 15 years. She is currently leading the charge at TDC in bringing many value added services to all screen types and sizes which includes mobile devices, desktop, set top boxes and connected TV.
News Television Genius
Verdens Gang, abbreviated VG, is a Norwegian tabloid newspaper which broadcasts video content – including news, sports and documentaries – via its VOD service VGTV. Jondahl is Head of Programming at the media company and is responsible for the development of VGTV’s entertainment productions, including the popular online video series ‘Fanthomas’, which boasts a record 18 million views on the platform.
Deploying IPTV at TeliaSonera
TeliaSonera launched Play+ in 2012 which gives IPTV customers the freedom to access their subscribed channels via a multitude of platforms. TeliaSonera’s focus is on choice – enabling users to find content they want to watch in the way they want to watch it which is why the company’s subscribers are able to access both HBO and Netflix via the Swedish operator’s network. As Chief Architect Wester is responsible for the deployment of this IPTV system.
Helping Launch TV 2 across Platforms
Thuesen looks after the definition of the TV 2 Sumo SVOD experience across devices. Since she began working for the Norwegian broadcaster in 2012, she has overseen the development of the company’s web platforms and focussed on creating a responsive user experience that scales neatly across different screen sizes. She has played a key role in launching the services on mobiles, tablets, Samsung Smart TV and PlayStation.
Assisting Content Providers and Developers Launch on Samsung Smart Hub
Schtaie hit the ground running when he joined Samsung Electronics Nordic in 2011, quickly becoming an essential part of the content team. He also played an important role in establishing Samsung as the leading Smart TV brand in the Nordic market by supporting content providers and developers. Schtaie’s dedicated work has resulted in a number of VOD services becoming available through the Samsung Smart Hub including HBO Nordic, Viaplay and SF Anytime.
Pushing the Boundaries at Yle
We’re told that 95% of Finnish people watch Yle programmes weekly so there is no doubt that Finland’s national broadcasting company is a big player in the Nordic video-on-demand sector. The man behind the strategy is Jari Lahti, CSO at Yle Media, who is responsible for audience insight and media planning. Lahti is also the CEO of Placto, a joint venture company with Yle that runs Teevee.fi – a common platform that aims to make finding Finnish online TV content as easy as possible.
Captain of the Vimond Ship
Widely recognized as a pioneer in online TV services, Hoibraaten and his team at TV 2 Norway have built Scandinavia’s most attractive and profitable OTT service under the Sumo brand. During his 10 year tenure as Chief Editor of VOD at Norway’s largest commercial broadcaster, Hoibraaten oversaw in-house technical developments that resulted in an award winning IP broadcast platform. Today, he is CEO of Vimond Media Solutions, a spin-off of TV 2 established to commercialize this unique platform internationally.
Exporting Expertise across the Globe
Millicom Digital Ventures, based in Sweden, create exciting digital services that are used all over the world. The company is currently working on two projects; a second-screen venture and a VOD start-up that will launch soon in Latin America. The first aims to create an online social TV guide, the second a streaming service with a strong library of content and the goal of becoming the leading service in video. Overseeing the UX design is Bengt Hammari who has been with the company since 2013.
Entertainment at Home
Lampinen is the Managing Director of Warner Bros. Entertainment where he is responsible for all of the Home Entertainment Group operations in the Nordic region. Lampinen has experience across all parts of the value chain; from development to publishing through to retail and digital. In the past two years he has ramped up the Warner Bros Digital presence and introduced “early digital releases” for both EST (electronic sell through) and TVOD.
Boosting the Presence of TV 2
Eriksen has more than 20 years network and online industry experience and manages TV 2’s network strategy, CDN-strategy, and operations and business relationships for the company’s national and international partners. Eriksen’s areas of expertise and ownership include network, OTT-distribution and video applications for web, VOD, mobile, smart-TV and set-top boxes.
Online Video Veteran
Currently Head of WebTV at MTV Oy, Finland’s largest commercial broadcaster, Lehtonen is responsible for operating leading brands such as MTV Katsomo (AVOD, TVOD and SVOD) and Filmnet (OTT SVOD). Having extensive knowledge of the digital media industry and with an online television background that reaches back to the late 90’s, Lehtonen was also in charge of MTV Media’s first Web TV service in 2004.
Monetising Content across Platforms
As CEO and founder of Edgeware, a provider of video delivery solutions, Roos has directed his company to becoming recognised as a technology leader. Working with global providers of on-demand video and TV solutions such as Ericsson, Seachange and Minerva, Edgeware has been designed to allow operators to monetise their video products by providing a service that can get any content on any screen at any time.
Keeping Content Safe
Conax, a Norwegian company that is part of the Telenor Group, provides CAS (Conditional Access Systems) to over 380 pay-TV operators including Canal Digital Norway, Dish TV India and KPN Netherlands. Through their content protection platform ‘Conax Contengo’, the company provides a secure content delivery system and DRM across broadcast and OTT on a variety of platforms. As one of the project managers at Conax, Vagmo is responsible for providing secure clients on devices.
Establishing C More Play in the Nordics
C More Entertainment is a leading premium pay-TV provider in the Nordic region. Andersson, who joined the company in 2007, was at the helm of the 2012 launch of streaming service C More Play, which gives subscribers access to C More’s premium selection of movies, sports and TV series on multiple devices. He is also responsible for the development and ongoing management of the product.
Helping Bring VOD Content to Kids
SF Norge is a Norwegian film distribution company, part of the Bonnier Group, which distributes films from big production companies such as Warner Bros and MGM. Stein, Manager of Children’s Content, is leading the charge in building a children’s entertainment service for web and TV streaming. Described by colleagues as an ‘innovative thinker’ and a ‘technology enthusiast’, Stein’s experience in product development and management has him representing SF Norge AS in our list.
Sony DADC Pioneer
Whilst better known for CD, DVD and Blu-Ray production, Sony DADC is also a generator of content for on-demand platforms. Experts in Digital Rights Management and distribution, the electronics company prides itself on ‘providing solutions on a global scale’ and allowing content owners to monetise their videos. Having started as General Manager for Business Development at Sony, Schertiger was given the position of VP European Business Development and Sales in 2012 which he has held ever since.
Expert in Digitalization of Content
As the amount of video being produced grows, Ericsson offers OTT providers a flexible delivery system for getting their content onto the screens of users. Having been with the company since the late 90’s, Borde has held his position since 2012 and works extensively in sales and solution development for TV broadcasters.
Leading Innovation at Arkena
As a veteran in the industry, Vandrup founded one of Europe’s first net radio channels and the Danish branch of Arkena. Having worked as VP sales for more than 10 years, he now takes a strong commercial approach to managing the Arkena product line across twelve geographical territories and nine markets. The Arkena video platform was chosen for HBO’s Nordic launch and by many of the leading Nordic broadcasters such as SVT, DR and NRK.
Leading Player behind the Scenes at Teracom
The Teracom Group AB offers IPTV services such as Boxer TV and PlusTV to its customers, and reaches around 99.8% of all Danish and Swedish households which is no mean feat. With approximately 600 broadcast stations, the Group strives to give consumers easy access to TV and radio of their choice. The man behind product at the Nordic giant is Svensson, who started with the company in late 2013.
Knowledgeable Product Manager
With over 300,000 households in Norway having fibre-optic networks and services from Altibox, the company is making a push to ensure that its VOD products are of the highest calibre. Working with supplier, Xstream, the Norwegian triple play provider has created an innovative web-TV everywhere solution called Altibox Chill which lets customers access both on demand and live content on all enabled devices. Svein acts as Product Manager of TV Services at the company.
Shaking up Movie Distribution
Responsible for strategy relating to on demand services at TeliaSonera, Bratt has driven the company’s vision for shorter movie distribution windows and getting more content available for more people. Working with the Gothenburg and Stockholm Film Festivals, Bratt has helped to release films through Telia’s VOD product and at the movie events simultaneously. Recently he broke new ground by releasing ‘The Look of Love’ first through VOD and then airing it in cinemas.
Bringing Better Streaming Technologies to Customers
SVT Play offers more than 2,000 hours of television content produced for or by SVT, which is available for up to 30 days immediately after it has broadcast. As Sweden’s most used on-demand service, available across tablets, mobiles and web, a lot of work has gone into making the video platform slick and user-friendly. Slott, SVT Play’s Product Manager, is responsible for video encoding, video delivery and DRM.
The Backbone of OTT TV
With headquarters in Stockholm, Ericsson is well known as a global provider of communications technology and services. On the VOD side of things, the company offers OTT providers the tools with which to deploy content safely and speedily across screens through its On-Demand Content Management Solution. With a long career spanning almost two decades at the TV4 Group, Näsman joined Ericsson early in 2013 and currently holds the position of Solution Architect Lead of OTT TV.
Smart TV Rainmaker
Nordberg is responsible for bringing more entertainment content to Opera TV, an application platform for Smart TV devices. Under his leadership, the company launched Opera TV Snap, a technology for transforming online video channels into ready-to-run TV apps. In 2013 the number of apps in Opera TV Store grew 350% (almost entirely video-on-demand, its most popular category of apps), and the content acquisition team expanded to the US and Latin America.
Acquiring Brilliant Content
An experienced figure in the on-demand industry, Öhman started working for what became SF Anytime in 2000 and has played an essential role in creating a digital rental market in the Nordics through his extensive work with rights owners on all levels. Available in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway, SF Anytime has a massive film collection that contains thousands of movies available for rental on a range of devices.
Boxer TV, owned by Teracom AB, is a Swedish company which makes it possible for TV viewers to access dozens of channels available on the Teracom network. Launched in Sweden in 2011, the video on demand service has gone from strength to strength under the leadership of Steen Ulf Jensen, CEO of Boxer TV. Our judges wanted to recognise the hard work put in by Berggren and her team in building such an excellent product.
They Must Have Hired Him for a Reason
Rumours that Spotify were planning to add video to its content line up were given weight when Price, former Head of TV and iPlayer at the BBC, was appointed Director of Product at the music giant in July 2013. Based in Stockholm, Price leads the development of Spotify’s iOS, Android and Web player apps, and his presence in this list is based on the influence that he could shortly have on the VOD industry.
OTT TV Streaming Solutions Provider
Erikstad is CEO and Co-founder of TV Everywhere vendor, Norigin Media, where he is responsible for overall technological development of the company’s multi-screen apps. Erikstad’s fundamental understanding of the industry has enabled NORIGIN MEDIA to successfully partner with leading global operators including Deutsche Telecom and Orange (France Telecom).
Points Viewers in the Right Direction
SF Anytime is one of the most popular video on demand services in the Nordics, having struck deals with content distributors such as Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Buena Vista Distribution and Regency. Leijon started working with what became SF Anytime in 2001 and is responsible for ensuring that customers can watch the thousands of movies provided by the company.
Interface Design Expert
Founded in 2006, Headweb has gone from strength to strength and is well on its way to becoming a market leader in providing premium video content to Scandinavians. Offering a wide array of some of the best and most recent blockbusters available, the Stockholm based service supplies over 6,500 TVOD movies to its customers. Eriksson is responsible for the design, planning and testing of the Headweb interface.