- March 17, 2015
- Posted by: Kauser Kanji
- Category: 50 VOD Professionals
Who are the fifty most influential people working in the Nordic online video industry? Here are our 2015 results!
While the rest of the world might think of the Nordics as a model for social living, a great place to see beautiful landscapes and the Aurora Borealis or as somewhere to source fantastic furniture, the online video industry regards Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden as a hotbed of content, product and strategic innovation and experimentation.
Consider that outside of North America, HBO decided to launch its first international service not in the UK, Germany or France but in Scandinavia. Or that in social media phenomenon PewDiePie, the region has a man that has 35 million subscribers to his YouTube channel and whose videos have been watched over 8 billion times. Or that in 2014, 43% of all streaming customers in the area had a subscription to Netflix – and that’s actually down from 64% the previous year (see page 7 of Arkena’s Nordic Video Index).
What drives this level of engagement? Historically, linear TV viewing in the locality is no higher than other countries (Swedes, for example, watched 200 minutes of TV a day last year compared to Brits who watched 235 minutes) so perhaps it’s something to do with the sheer number of competitively priced VOD services available there. Or is the growth of outsider services like Netflix and HBO Nordic fuelling an arms race, prompting incumbent broadcasters and operators to spend big on high quality content and product innovation?
Whatever the case, the combined area is a super-interesting market and today we’re delighted to present 50 VOD Professionals Nordic 2015; a list of the most influential people working in the sector who are building terrific products, fostering OTT adoption and envisioning creative new monetisation approaches. We received almost one hundred nominations for individuals working in over fifty different companies (thanks!) and our panel of senior industry judges met in Stockholm two weeks ago to decide the rankings.
Feel free to congratulate the chosen and tell us what you think in the comments box below or via Twitter @consultVodkr using the hashtag #50VODProfessionals.
Securing the top spot on a 50 VOD Professionals list two years in a row is no mean feat. Our judges however couldn’t ignore Myklebust’s 15+ years experience in the streaming media industry, coupled with his dedication to making NRK content accessible for all Norwegians. As Head of IP Distribution, Myklebust’s most recent focus has been on deploying NRK’s VOD service to smart-TVs and games consoles, helping to bring the media organisation’s programming to larger screens, as well as successfully launching a tailored OTT platform for children.
Streaming Technology Expert
Although Karlsson hasn’t been at SVT for very long, his strong background in the OTT industry is what impressed our judges most and secured his place in the top 10. Described by his colleagues as a “guru” and as having a “high reputation amongst several streaming services”, Karlsson has held senior positions at both Millicom International Cellular and Qbrick and is an expert in online video technologies. Whilst working for Millicom, Karlsson was on the team responsible for building Mirado, an SVOD OTT service aimed at the LATAM market.
Hail the SVOD King!
A large part of the conversation amongst our judges was focused on Netflix and the impact the SVOD giant has had such on the Nordic market in a relatively short space of time. We’ve been told that the streaming service has been instrumental in transforming the way consumers and businesses view OTT, and the building of its brand over the last 24 months was described by one of our panel as “phenomenal”. Available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, it’s thought that 43% of all streaming customers in Scandinavia have a subscription to Netflix, making it the most popular on-demand service in the region.
Zemack is a true veteran of the television industry, having worked in the field for the entirety of his professional career. An expert in both linear and online broadcast, he has held roles at Swedish Radio, BBC R&D, Viaplay, TV4 and, most recently, C More Entertainment where he managed all digital products. Zemack has now moved to Bonnier Growth Media and taken up the newly minted role of Chief Digital Officer, where he leads his team in making innovative investments within the media industry.
Getting TV 2 out to the Masses
Having placed #30 in last year’s list, Eriksen is back again with a new position and new title. As Future Media Strategist for TV 2, he has been responsible for getting the commercial television station onto Apple TV, making history in the process – TV 2 was the first Norwegian content partner to be available on the device. With over 20 years network and online industry experience, Eriksen is in charge of TV 2’s online distribution strategy, operations and business relationships, and is a specialist in multi-CDN distribution.
Leading TeliaSonera into a Digital Age
Berlinde leads the global TV business at TeliaSonera and is responsible for strategy and development of the company´s different TV and video services. She seems to be doing a great job – in 2014 TeliaSonera added around 697,000 TV customers in Sweden, up 8.7% year-on-year. She is also responsible for content on all platforms including computers, smartphones, tablets and smart-TVs. Berlinde, we’re told by her press colleagues, has been a key player in driving the introduction and launch of OTT products in several markets.
Blazing a Trail in Scandinavia
Back in 2012, HBO decided to launch its first international service not in the UK, Germany or France but in Scandinavia. The move looks like it’s paying off. HBO Nordic, we understand, is being used by 9% of all the region’s streaming customers, and subscriber numbers are, unlike those of Netflix, holding steady. Offering viewers complete access to the HBO content catalogue, including hit titles such as Game of Thrones, the service has previously been touted by consulting firm, Mediavision as the fastest growing OTT service in Sweden.
Steering the Viaplay Charge
As the second most popular VOD service in the entire Nordic region (we understand that 19% of all streaming customers have used it as least once in the last six months), Viaplay is hot! Given its past success, how does it look ahead and plan to maintain its OTT user base? Cue Hanson. As Head of Innovation, she is responsible for setting the company’s annual roadmap. Hanson previously managed connected TVs and games consoles at Viaplay and focused on maximising profits on these new devices. Hanson holds a Master of Science in Media Technology from Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology.
Leading Digital Growth
Hald leads TDC Group’s new digital venture BLOCKBUSTER, which offers a premium proposition of current films and series available for rental and ownership on multiple platforms. The BLOCKBUSTER service has also been launched on TDC Group TV platforms such as YouSee Cable and TDC IPTV. Responsible for the market leading TVOD proposition, new and extensive platform availability and the online re-launch of the BLOCKBUSTER brand, Hald and his VOD team are expected to lead new digital growth in home entertainment. TDC Group recently acquired the Norwegian cable company, GET.
Services in Triplicate
Exceeding Expectations at Accedo
Lantz is the CEO and co-founder of Accedo, a global market leader in TV application solutions. Since starting Accedo, Lantz has been instrumental in driving the industry forward, offering innovative solutions for the delivery of future consumer experiences. Over the past year, Lantz has spearheaded the launch of a new application-centric multiscreen solution, Accedo VIA, and the cloud-based application management solution Accedo AppGrid, which already controls the TV application experience for more than 5 million consumers around the world.
Strategic Thinker Responsible for Audience Insight
With a career at the Finnish national broadcasting company spanning almost 20 years, and as a regular speaker at industry trade shows, Lahti has worked his way up to Chief Strategy Officer of Yle Media and is responsible for audience insight and media planning. Collectively, Yle’s TV, radio and internet programmes reach almost 85% of the Finnish population, and a whopping 99% of that number are said to be satisfied with the content they consume.
Key Player at Com Hem
Around 40%, or 1.8 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 (User Experience) on Com Hem’s TV products on all platforms through her creativity and knowledge of content management and customer insights, which brings value to both audiences and the company.
Forward Thinking Leader at Canal Digital
Berge has been working with on-demand products since 2002, cementing himself as a true veteran of the TV industry. Having joined Canal Digital in 2006, he is responsible for launching the company’s VOD service Canal Digital GO and, for the last two years, has been focused on ensuring that the content available from the platform is being streamed in the highest quality. With nearly 20,000 titles and over 60 live channels this is some achievement and with over 920,000 customers from all over the Nordics, Berge is definitely on the right track.
Clara Mai ...
Ensuring the Audience can see YouSee and TDC
Kunstmann joined TDC Group almost three years ago and hit the ground running – she has been responsible for all major OTT and VOD launches at both TDC and subsidiary YouSee in that time, including the latest launch of the digital BLOCKBUSTER brand in December 2014 alongside Casper Hald (see #9 in our list). Under Kunstmann’s care, the development department for TV and OTT Solutions has more than doubled in size and newly released video apps for cable and broadband customers built by her team have been downloaded over one million times.
YouTube Super Celebrity
Otherwise known as Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, the Swedish poster-child for YouTube has gone from strength to strength since he launched his channel in 2010 which now boasts over 34.8 million subscribers and 8 billion collective video views. There was some disagreement among our judges on whether PewDiePie was eligible for 50 VOD Professionals Nordic. However his influence over how content is made and consumed could not be ignored for long – he is, after all more popular on the short-form video platform than Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and One Direction. It’s estimated he made roughly $4 million in YouTube partner revenue in 2013.
Innovating in the OTT Cloud
Magine, a cloud-based service which lets users watch live and on-demand TV whenever and wherever they are, was founded in 2010 by Hjelmstedt who has gone on to achieve international recognition from media outlets such as The Guardian and Bloomberg. Having launched commercially in 2013 in its native Sweden, Magine arrived to great enthusiasm in Germany in April last year and has hinted that the UK is a “very interesting market” for potential future expansion. That said, Magine recently pulled out of Spain which perhaps explains Hjelmstedt’s fall in ranking in our list.
Ensuring Smooth Delivery of Video
As Streaming Manager, Jensen has the important role of ensuring video content from DR, the Danish public broadcaster, successfully makes it on to the many devices consumers now expect to be able to watch content on, including web, mobile, smart-TV and other connected platforms. In June 2014, DR launched a new version of its catch-up service DRTV that was, we’re told, a resounding success with customers. Currently DR is working on bringing the service to games consoles and implementing personalisation functionality across all applications.
Spreading the SF Anytime Word
As Head of Marketing, Hulthén has complete control over the strategic development of the SF Anytime brand. With broad experience and deep knowledge of the broadcast industry, Hulthén has held several leadership positions throughout her career and is an expert in all aspects of B2B and B2C marketing, communication and related sales areas. Founded in 2002, SF Anytime has cemented itself as one of the leading on-demand services in the Nordic and Baltic regions, offering TVOD content through TV operators such as TeliaSonera Group, Telenor Group, Get, Com Hem as well as several OTT partners.
Making News Reporting Interactive
Aftonbladet is a major Swedish tabloid which, we’re told, is the largest online newspaper in Scandinavia. With its web TV service, called Aftonbladet TV, it delivers news, sports, politics and entertainment programming to its users, and currently delivers an impressive one million video streams per day. Interestingly, Aftonbladet has designed a platform where viewers can film live events via an app and send clips directly to a newly-built studio, on-site, for broadcast, the construction of which was led by Hatciliamis. This enables a speed and urgency to live news reporting that traditional TV channels have, thus far, struggled to match.
Visionary at Com Hem
Söderbaum joined Com Hem in late 2014 and is responsible for the vision, design, delivery and management of the triple-play company’s TV products. His key focus is to drive continual product improvement through a thorough understanding of product usage and customer insight whilst ensuring consistency of the user experience across devices. Before joining Com Hem, Söderbaum held positions at TeliaSonera, Tele2 and Deloitte Consulting.
Multi-disciplined Tech Evangelist
Bolstad is the product owner of NRK’s online, radio and TV services, including apps on web, mobile devices, Apple TV, Smart TVs and consoles. The services are very popular, we understand, with approximately 20% of Norwegians using one or more every week. Bolstad has worked at NRK for several years, but not always in video – he developed the weather service website yr.no, which has grown to become the world’s fourth largest weather platform, and was responsible for NRKbeta which is NRK’s technology website.
Bringing Nordic VOD Professionals Together
Vinskei is CMO at Xstream and is responsible for orchestrating and building the brand of the company whilst fuelling business growth globally. Since Vinskei joined Xstream five years ago, she has contributed to making the organisation one of the most recognized thought leaders within the OTT & TV Everywhere space both nationally and internationally. On behalf of Xstream, Vinskei is the organizer and host of the annual Nordic Media Summit, now in its sixth year, and has built it into a must-attend event for all industry professionals looking to meet, learn and network.
Taking Vimond to the Next Level
Under his tenure as EVP Sales and Marketing, Silva has grown Vimond from a promising start-up in the VOD and live streaming landscape to a formidable cloud enabler of TV everywhere services. Offering unique solutions and propositions, Vimond powers Nordic and international brands such as Reuters TV, TV 2 Sumo, TV4 Play, MTV Katsomo, iflix, RiksTV and Ekstra amongst others. Prior to joining Vimond, Silva was instrumental in establishing Aspiro as an international provider of mobile TV across several geographies. Dividing his time between Oslo and Bergen, Silva is a major player in taking Nordic technology to the global market.
Building Excellent Products
Having joined Modern Times Group – which owns Viaplay – in 2009, Larsson has held various product management roles within the company, eventually landing the head of department job in late 2011. He was responsible for transforming the original Viasat On Demand product into what it is today – a multi-screen, OTT and portable Viaplay service which is available for a fixed monthly cost in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Ukraine and Russia. In his leadership role, Larsson is in charge of product strategy, design and roadmap (alongside Monika Hanson – see #8 in our list) at Viaplay and reports directly to the CEO.
Strategic Leader Expanding TV 2 Sumo’s Footprint
In 2014, Bruarøy led TV 2 Sumo through its highest year of growth ever, making the SVOD service into a serious money making machine that, we’re told, generates higher revenues per user than all of its competitors in the Nordic market. With a focus on offering more advanced functionality and expanding its premium content library, Bruarøy has guided TV2 Sumo to become one of the most well liked SVOD players in Norway according to a recent national survey. Not a bad start for his first full year in the position.
Building Great Products
TeliaSonera is the dominant telephone and mobile network operator in both Sweden and Finland and offers both pay-TV packages and a standalone streaming service available on phones, tablets and web. Telia TV could be likened to NOW TV in the UK, offering viewers who want to access TeliaSonera’s content library a means to do so without being locked into a lengthy contract. As Chief Architect of IPTV, Wester leads the technical work on TeliaSonera’s TV platform. In Q4 2014, TeliaSonera added 16,000 new TV subscribers in Sweden.
Elbowing out the Competition
Helbo is the CTO of the Danish cable service provider Stofa, one of the main competitors to the Danish incumbent tri-play service, TDC. Helbo has led the process of in-house development, creating an interactive platform which works on both FTTH and Cable TV platforms, and has been a frontrunner in securing Stofa a spot as one of the most innovative service providers in the region.
Mobile Video Master
Lindberg is the Head of Development for Viaplay’s mobile apps. With an extensive background in mobile television, he was a pioneer for video streaming over the 2G network all the way back in 1997 and was also responsible for developing a live streaming platform for the 2004 Olympics in Athens via 3G phones. Having joined Viaplay in 2011, Lindberg is driven by his fantastic team and the desire to build the best mobile video applications available on the market.
Not Angry Just Driven
Having only started at Rovio (a video game developer best known for creating the Angry Bird franchise) as a Product Manager back in 2012, Herttua has risen quickly through the ranks to take the reins of the company’s animated video distribution platform ToonsTV. Having already delivered 4 billion views in 230 countries by its second birthday, the video channel features shows such as ‘Angry Birds Toons’, ‘Piggy Tales’ and content from third parties such as National Geographic and Hasbro. Herttua has an extensive background in technology, entrepreneurship, sales and marketing and building successful start-ups.
Jon Espen ...
Great Knowledge, Great Responsibilities
Nergård joined Canal Digital in 2013 as On Demand Product Manager, managing and developing the entertainment portal Canal Digital GO for over 920,000 households in the Nordics. During the last year, he has been responsible for the TV Everywhere initiative within Canal Digital and has also contributed to the launch of GO on iPad and iPhone. Looking forward, Nergård will be involved with launching the service on Android devices in the spring.
Making C More Play Better
One of the leading providers in the Nordic pay-TV segment, C More is currently undergoing a period of change and repositioning itself as a platform-agnostic entertainment service focused on streaming and on-demand viewing. As Product Manager, Andersson is playing a key role in that undertaking, taking charge of the development of a VOD service that caters to the needs of modern-day viewers whilst offering a uniquely personalised user experience. Andersson has been with C More since 2007.
UX and Streaming Genius
As Chief UX 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. In the upcoming months Melin will focus on how the company can help its users identify the right content to watch with the time they have available in their hectic schedules.
Streaming Technologies Guru
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. Having spent almost two decades at the TV4 Group, Näsman joined Ericsson in 2013 and is currently working on solutions for OTT services such as live encoding, DRM, workflows and CDN and distribution.
Shaking Things Up with Plejmo
Earlier this year Film2home, a Swedish TVOD platform, expanded its operations by acquiring rival Headweb and launching a newly branded movie service named Plejmo. Leading the charge is Lindwall who, as CEO, has already introduced a dynamic new pricing model, offline accessibility and one of the largest collections of movie titles available in Sweden. Having acted as Director of International Growth for Spotify between 2011 and 2013, Lindwall has huge experience working in the technology industry and is skilled at building teams from the ground up and expanding into new territories. Can she do it again with Plejmo?
Going Head to Head with Traditional Br
As the second largest online newspaper in Sweden, it makes sense that Expressen would want to go head-to-head with incumbent broadcasters and work towards moving the traditional press into the TV space. Broadcasting live news and on-demand clips via its site and mobile apps, Expressen.tv now nets around 2.6 million unique visitors every week. As Head of Development, Wagner is responsible for co-ordinating and planning the development of digital products across all projects and teams, leading the work set out in the company’s roadmaps.
What a CV!
Dr. Göran Appelquist has 20+ years in the digital video industry and currently serves as Chief Technology Officer at technology vendor, Edgeware. He previously held management and executive positions at Digital Vision, including Director of R&D, CTO and VP DV Business Unit. Appelquist has extensive experience in project research at CERN, the high-energy physics centre outside Geneva, Switzerland, working as a member of Stockholm University research staff. Unsurprisingly, Appelquist also holds a Ph.D. in Physics from Stockholm University in Stockholm, Sweden.
Leading Innovation at Arkena
As a veteran in the industry, Vandrup founded one of Europe’s first internet radio channels and the Danish branch of media services company, Arkena. Having worked as VP of 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 is currently being used by HBO Nordic and Film2home, as well as leading Nordic broadcasters such as DR and NRK.
Reaching more than 90% of the Finnish population, Nelonen Media is a serious contender in the country for the viewing time of consumers. Offering the very best local and international entertainment, the group operates four nationwide free-to-air channels, five pay-TV channels, four radio channels, a free-of-charge VOD channel and a SVOD service. Taka-aho joined the company back in 2008 and is currently acting as Vice President of Online.
Best-Dressed VOD Professional in the Nordics!
As Head of Content Acquisition at Opera Software, Nordberg is responsible for bringing more entertainment content to the Opera TV Store, an application platform for Smart TV devices. Since Nordberg joined the company in 2012, the content acquisition team has expanded into the US and Latin America, and the number of Opera TV Store apps and channels has more than doubled year on year. Under his leadership, Opera TV Snap was launched – an industry-first technology for transforming online video channels into ready-to-run Smart TV apps.
OTT TV Streaming Solutions Provider
Responsible for creating the NORIGIN MEDIA brand nearly a decade ago, Anand heads global evolution of the proudly Scandinavian company. He manages all commercial activity, providing oversight of the sales and marketing teams, partnerships, and press relations. Anand has successfully signed industry leading clients including Deutsche Telekom and Orange Global and has led NORIGIN to profitability in the first fiscal year under new ownership. Anand started his career at News Corp, building a strong broadcasting and advertising sales background. He is a devoted VOD professional, with his smartphone, tablet or laptop never far away for work, play or TV.
Pioneer in Swedish Broadcasting
Cedercrona joined SBS Discovery TV back in 2002 and has worked his way up the ranks to the position of Digital Media Director and a place on the senior management team. Successfully leading and developing the fast growing online video platforms Kanal 5 Play, Kanal 9 Play and Kanal 11 Play, Cedercrona has successfully grown the market share of these three services in the highly competitive Swedish market since he took the reins back in 2013. In the past year, he has been instrumental in the development of the online platform Dplay and the rebranding of Discovery Networks.
Managing the OVP Space
Focused on creating visual sharing tools for organizations, Christensen co-founded 23, providers of a video cloud CMS, in 2005 and under his guidance the organisation has become a market leader in Scandinavia. 23 is the proud maker of 23 Video – a cloud tool for companies to build and run video websites. It offers full flexibility and control over every part of online video communication. By pioneering the adoption of video in businesses, 23 Video are experts in content marketing and communications strategies in the Nordic region.
Monetising Content across Platforms
As CEO and founder, Roos is responsible for solidifying Edgeware’s presence internationally as a leader in the video delivery market. Bringing more than 20 years of executive level and management experience from several advanced technology start-ups, he oversees all strategic platforms and launches, including the highly touted debut of the Orbit-2X and the WTV-2X Web TV product. Prior to co-founding Edgeware, Roos served as the Vice President of engineering at Xelerated, a fabless semiconductor company that developed high-end network processors.
Planning European Expansion
During the last two years, Stjernström and his team have been focused on building the Solidtango online video platform from the ground up. Through a smart and unique system architecture, Stjernström has made it possible for the company to become one of the fastest growing OVPs in Sweden, serving millions of video views and thousands of pay-per-view transactions each month. Now that the platform has been battle-tested, the company is aiming to utilise its setup and structure to expand operations into the rest of Europe.
New Kid on the Block
Pendari, CEO & Founder of VionLabs AB, is an entrepreneur with a drive to create unique products. Vionel, a consumer content discovery service built by Pendari and his co-founder Klas Källqvist, is described as a “place for people who love film and TV” and acts as a gateway to hundreds of thousands of hours of programming from initial theatre release to DVD. Alongside this B2C product, Pendari also runs Vionlabs, a developer of digital ecosystems for the media and entertainment industries, offering a new standard for how consumers are given access to good content. Watch this space for more announcements from the company!
Keen Eye for Great Content
Verdens Gang, abbreviated VG, is a Norwegian tabloid newspaper which broadcasts video content – including news, sports and documentaries – via its VOD service VGTV. In the last year the company has concentrated on redefining its audience and how to create the right content for it, resulting in an increased uptake of the service by younger demographics. 75% of viewers are under the age of 40, compared to the typical 20% across mainstream Norwegian TV. Jondahl is responsible for identifying good show ideas and developing them into successful VGTV programmes.
Knowledgeable Team Leader
Closing 2014 with almost 365,000 active customers, Altibox has been steadily increasing its user base (and the number of distribution partners it works with) since its launch back in 2002. Just before the Christmas holidays the company rolled out an updated TV portal, which boasts a new design, easier navigation and a complete overhaul of PVR recording functionality. Svein acts as Team Manager for TV and Content Services at the company and was previously a Development Manager at NRK.
Widely recognised as a pioneer in online TV services, Helge Høibraaten and his team at TV 2 Norway have, we’re told, built Scandinavia’s most attractive and profitable over-the-top (OTT) service under the TV 2 Sumo brand. During his ten year tenure at Norway’s largest commercial broadcaster, Høibraaten oversaw in-house technical developments that resulted in an award winning IP broadcast platform which other regional broadcasters asked to source from TV 2. Today, Høibraaten is the CEO of Vimond Media Solutions, a spin-off of TV 2 established to commercialise this unique platform internationally.
Back In Business
Founded in 2002, SF Anytime could be described as the Blinkbox of the Nordic region, offerings thousands of pay-per-view titles. Having recently come back from paternity leave (which perhaps explains his relatively low ranking in our list), Bonnier is responsible for building and developing the SF Anytime platform which is available via a standalone streaming service and through leading TV operators and OTT partners. Bonnier has also worked at Ericsson and is a co-founder of video ad trading supplier, VideoPlaza.