Increasing video-on-demand viewing in the Nordic countries

 | 6 April 2016
Viewing of audiovisual content is increasing in the Nordic countries. This is due to a growth in video-on-demand viewing while at the same time the overall consumption of linear TV is quite stable.

The Nordic region is characterized by high Internet use and access to broadband and devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones. That this is a good basis for the streaming market is shown in data on an increasing use of video-on-demand services in the Nordic countries.

Comparisons between countries still difficult

Due to the lack of industry standards for video-on-demand measurements, and to surveys including different numbers and types of streaming services, comparisons between countries should be made with some caution. That said, however, some basic Nordic trends can be noted. These are described below.

For this overview we have used openly available data from the survey institutes responsible for the official measurements of traditional TV, plus some complementary information. For Denmark, Norway and Sweden we have reach data for various streaming services, and for Finland and Sweden data on streaming starts for streaming TV services with essentially open content. We have no data for Iceland.

YouTube, public service and Netflix at the top

Viewing of streaming video has grown in recent years. As often happens, the trend is led by the younger age groups, who are simultaneously watching less and less traditional television, which indicates a switching of platforms for audiovisual content.

YouTube is the most popular streaming service. Here we have no comparable Nordic data, but in Sweden nine of ten 9-19-year-olds and more than half of all Swedes aged 9-99 years watch YouTube on a weekly basis. The use on a daily basis is also considerable, with  seven of ten young people and over a third of the population watching YouTube content daily (data by MMS). YouTube is also the medium which Nordic teenagers would miss the most, according to a Nordic study by Nordvision.

Among the services that have the greatest audience are the open streaming services offered by public service broadcasters. Of the paid services, Netflix is the major player.

In Norway and Sweden, the streaming services run by the tabloids VG and Aftonbladet are high on the list of the most used services. Both belong to the Schibsted Media Group and are predominantly open and funded by commercials, but they also offer premium content.

Weekly reach of different streaming services in 2015 in Denmark, Norway and Sweden (per cent)
Graph showing the weekly reach of different streaming services in 2015 in Scandinavia.
Sources: TNS Gallup Denmark, TNS Gallup Norway, MMS.


Four of ten Danes watch TV streaming services weekly, according to a report from DR Media Research. On average, young people stream TV content for more than an hour each day, compared to half an hour per day by Danes in general. Netflix and DR TV are the dominating services, but if YouTube were included, it would top the list.

According to a report on media use on the Internet by the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces, nearly half of the Danes stream TV-programmes/films from TV channels’ or other streaming services, or use music streaming services, at least weekly. Among 12-34-year-olds eight out of ten persons use streaming services each week, but the viewing/listening then declines with age.


In Norway two of ten people watch TV and film streaming sites, and almost four out of ten watch other video-on-demand sites on a daily basis. This is quite stable compared to 2014, but looking a few years back, a great deal has happened. In 2012, for example, two-thirds of the population stated that they rarely or never watched TV/film online, while in 2015 the proportion of these non-viewers had dropped to a third.

In Norway there are three main streaming players: NRK web-TV, Netflix and VG TV (which also operates a linear TV channel).


In Sweden, every fourth person (27%) watches an open streaming service on a daily basis, while 16 per cent use a subscribed one (SVoD). The young are the most frequent users, with an average of an hour streamed viewing a day, compared to half an hour in the whole population.

On a weekly basis over half the population watches an open streaming service, while three of ten watch a subscription service. Dominating services are SVT Play, watched by just over one in three Swedes weekly, followed by the equally open services TV4 Play and Aftonbladet TV. Netflix is ​​the largest paid-for service.

If YouTube is included in the open streaming services, their daily use increases to almost half of the population. YouTube also significantly adds to the daily viewing time, with 40 minutes extra for the 9-19-year-olds and more than 15 minutes for the population as a whole.

The average number of streaming starts for online TV in 2015 was almost 80 million per month, a sharp increase from 50 million in 2014. Data include the open streaming services of SVT, UR, TV4, MTG TV and the Discovery Network. SVT Play and TV4 Play dominate with 60 and 28 per cent of programme starts, respectively.


In Finland, the average number of streaming starts for online TV was 47 million per month in 2015, up from 41 million in 2014. In relation to the population, the numbers for Finland and Sweden are at the same level with around eight streaming starts per inhabitant per month.

The Finnish survey includes open streaming services from the public service broadcaster and the largest commercial TV companies: YLE Areena, MTV3’s Katsomo and Nelonen Media Ruutu, of which YLE Areena has the most viewers.

About sources and surveys

Denmark: Weekly reach data are based on the survey Index Danmark/Gallup by TNS Gallup, as presented in the DR Audience Research Deparment's Media Development 2015. Data cover Q2+Q3/2015 in the population 12 years and older. The data in the report by the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces (Mediebrug på  internettet. Streaming, indhold og adgang) are based on the Agency’s own questions in Index Danmark/Gallup 1 half-year/2015, and show the percentage of the Internet population, i.e. 97 per cent of the Danish population aged 12 and older.

Norway: Reach data are derived from TNS Gallup Norway and its survey TNS Gallup InterBuss, Q4/2015, and are based on the Internet population, i.e. 96 per cent of Norwegians aged 15 years and older. The data are presented in TNS Gallup’s presentation Rikets medietilstand. Medietrender 2016 [The Country’s Media Status. Media Trends 2016].

Sweden: Reach data comes from the MMS Web TV survey (CATI) for Q4/2015, and are reported in the MMS report Trend & Tema 2015:4. The population is those aged 9-99 years.

Swedish and Finnish streaming starts are presented in the annual reports by MMS and Finnpanel, respectively, and are measured via the comScore Digital Analytix system. The measurements are done using a digital measurement code installed in web players for the services that have chosen to be included. Data are presented on an annual basis.

Eva Harrie

Topic :