Voddler, Sweden’s ‘Spotify For Video,’ Takes Its Freemium Streaming And Sharing Service Global

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Voddler, the Swedish film and TV streaming service that has been described as the “Spotify for video,” is going global to take on Netflix, Amazon, Vdio, BitTorrent, and the many others in this space. Live in Scandinavia since 2010, and Spain since 2012 (where all together it has picked up 1.2 million users), this week Voddler is extending its footprint to the rest of Europe and Russia; and it is adding North America, South America, Asia and the rest of the world in the coming weeks.

CEO and founder Marcus Bäcklund, who was in London today to announce the news, says that initially Voddler will be rolling out its service as a standalone, OTT product. “We have partnered with carriers in the past for VOD, and I think it’s possible to do that in the future as well here, but what we are really trying to do here is offer an independent and open platform for everyone,” he said in an interview with TechCrunch.

The core of Voddler’s platform are two services it calls LiveShelf and ViewShare, both based on a peer-to-peer, serverless architecture. LiveShelf gives users a selection of videos — current catalog numbers at 5,000, from “leading film studios, including Hollywood majors” — with they can either rent (typical price $5.22) or buy ($10), with some titles offered for free. All are viewable on all major mobile, tablet PC and TV screens.

ViewShare, meanwhile, is a service that then lets Voddler users share that content with others: those who take Voddler’s free service have a limit to how many other users can view (currently 10), while those who pay €5 ($6.50)/month extra for “Voddler Plus” get that privilege for an unlimited number of users. On top of these two services, Voddler also has some 18 patents filed for the Vnet streaming technology that is used to run the platform, and it makes a “small commission” each time a video is watched, a royalty fee from the content holder.

In its limited release to date, Voddler has seen a healthy take-up. Among its 1.2 million users, its video catalog has had 18 million streams since 2011, and it reports cumulative revenues of $3 million since launch on that activity. As Spotify has shown with its business model — and others like Rdio are also demonstrating with its Vdio video service — while media streaming services make very small (and sometimes no) margins, their power lies in scale. This is one reason why Voddler had to expand worldwide.

The other is that it simply can. Bäcklund says that its technology makes it very simple to expand geographically and efficiently, and it is now that it has managed to secure the content relationships to take the service to new markets. He calls the limited European release up to now the “proof of concept that we have now achieved.”

While 5,000 titles doesn’t sound like a significant number, he says that the number will go up as the year goes on. “We’re just finalizing agreements with our 50 content partners for this,” he says.

To date, Voddler has raised €24 million ($31 million) in VC funding from investors that include Cipio Partners and Nokia Growth Partners.