Channel families dominate the Nordic TV market

 | 28 June 2015
Television viewing is becoming more and more fragmented, but the largest proportion of linear TV viewing is still concentrated to the major TV companies. This is shown in Nordicom’s compilations of audience data from the Nordic countries in 2014.

Previous overviews of linear TV viewing in the Nordic countries have shown quite stable viewing in 2014 compared to 2013. Compared to ten years ago, we still watch more linear TV, but the increase in audience that came with the transition to digital terrestrial TV has been broken, and in recent years the curve has flattened.

As for the major TV channels' audience shares, they were relatively constant from 2013 to 2014. In a ten-year perspective, however, all major channels have lost viewing, and many quite considerably, but nevertheless, some major TV channels in each country still stand for a considerable proportion of viewing time.

But how is viewing of linear TV in the Nordic countries distributed among the various TV groups? And has there been any change since 2013, or over time?

Channel families dominate

In each Nordic country a few channel families together account for around 90 per cent of the national viewing time. Channels outside these companies share the remaining 10 per cent.

In Iceland, primarily two domestic companies compete for viewers: public broadcaster RÚV and Iceland's leading private media, 365 ehf., which broadcasts the largest commercial channel Stöð2 and its sister channels. In the other countries, there are four major channel families, respectively: one domestic public service broadcaster, one or two companies built around the major commercial TV channel/s/ in each country, plus MTG and Discovery Networks, which operate in several countries.

Over the years, most of these TV groups have bought, sold, started, closed down or changed names and formats of some of their TV channels.  But still, the groups are more or less the same and their audience shares remain fairly stable.

TV broadcasting companies' audience shares in each Nordic country 2014 (share of viewing time, per cent)
Graph showing TV broadcasting companies' audience shares in each Nordic country.
* TV 2 in Denmark and Norway, Nelonen Media in Finland and 365 ehf. in Iceland are marked in the same green colour in the graph to indicate that they operate exclusively on one national TV market in the Nordic region, unlike Bonnier, MTG and Discovery Network which operate in several Nordic countries.
Note: Data are based on daily viewing time. Annual averages, except for Iceland week 42.
Sources: TNS Gallup Denmark, the Danish Agency for Culture, Finnpanel and YLE Audience Research, Capacent, Statistics Iceland, TNS Gallup Norway, MMS, Nordicom-Sweden.

Public service TV largest in each country

The original public service companies have kept the greatest audience shares in all countries except for Denmark, where TV2 Denmark is larger than the DR. TV 2 Denmark, which just as DR is owned by the Danish state, broadcasts the commercially funded public service channel TV 2 plus a number of channels without public service obligations. This means that also in Denmark, public service broadcasting has the largest audience share, and with a total of 58 per cent – DR total 34 per cent and TV2’s main channel 24 per cent – it reaches the same level as public service in Iceland (RÚV 59 per cent).

DR, YLE and RÚV increased their shares slightly from 2013 to 2014, while SVT remained the same and NRK decreased somewhat. Even over a ten-year period, DR, YLE and RUV have retained their overall market shares (NRK and SVT have, however, lost 5-6 percentage points).

Top Nordic media companies plus Discovery dominate commercial TV

Following closely behind the public service companies are the companies built around the major commercial TV channels that were previously broadcast in the analogue terrestrial networks. Their owners are some of the largest Nordic media companies: Swedish Bonnier owns MTV Media in Finland and TV4 in Sweden, Finnish Sanoma owns Nelonen Media in Finland and Danish Egmont owns the Norwegian TV 2 Group.

The other major television groups are the Swedish MTG/Viasat and American-owned Discovery Networks Northern Europe, both of which broadcast TV channels in several Nordic countries. MTG has its strongest position in Sweden and Discovery Networks in Denmark.

From SBS to Discovery

The channel group that has undergone the greatest changes in recent years is Discovery Networks Northern Europe. The group is the result of Discovery Communications purchase of SBS Nordic from the German ProSieben Sat.1 Group. The takeover led to the merger of Discovery’s and SBS’ Nordic TV channels into a new company, SBS Discovery Media, which was established in 2013. Since 2014, the group is also the principal owner of the Eurosport channels. The influx of new channels has contributed to greater audience shares for the company. In 2015, SBS Discovery Media changed names to Discovery Networks Northern Europe.

Download tables on TV in the Nordic countries from Nordicom's table database

About the statistics

Nordicom’s compilations are based on TV-meter data from national survey institutes responsible for the official TV surveys. The surveys measure traditional TV viewing, but the reports also present to various extents other surveys and estimates for non-linear viewing. All main channels are included, but the number of channels is not the total for every group. Channels not included are mainly small channels (mainly pay-TV). For details, see the tables above.


Data are compiled mainly from the following institutes and reports.

Eva Harrie

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