Sweden’s Storytel Cites a 20-Percent Gain in 2021 over 2020

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Storytel reports good momentum for its audiobook and ebook streaming services in Poland, Russia, and Turkey—and less so in the Netherlands.

In Stockholm’s Brunkeberg Tunnel in Norrmalm, Stockholm, December 4. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Alexander Farnsworth

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Momentum in Latin America Said To Be Rising
In 2021, streaming revenues for Storytel came in at 2,251 million Swedish krona (US$247.7 million), a gain of 20 percent year-over-year and slightly above what was forecast by the company, per a report today (January 10).

Storytel’s fourth-quarter revenues of 605 million krona (US$66.6 million) were in line with projections in both the company’s home-base Nordic region and the wider field of more than 25 total international markets.

One of the most internationalized of audiobook-led digital streaming services, Storytel’s reports are followed by some as one indicator of the direction of digital subscription, as well as streaming audio and ebooks, in world book markets. The company still uses the Mofibo brand in some instances, the name of the Danish service it acquired in May 2016. And its own publishing operations include StorySide for audiobooks and several established houses—Norstedts, Lind & Co., People’s, and Gummerus among them.

At the end of 2021, Storytel reports, it had 1.81 million paying subscribers, a 22-percent gain over 2020 and just behind the company’s predicted range of 1.82 to 1.84 million.

Storytel reports that it had an average of 1,784,600 paying subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2021 overall, compared to the forecast of 1,789,000-1,796,000 paying subscribers.

Tellander: Nordics Grow at ‘a Solid Pace of 15 Percent’

When looking at the Nordic markets, the company reports an average number of paying Storytel subscribers in the fourth quarter of 1,047,900, in the upper range of what had been forecast to investors. Streaming revenues in the Nordics came in at 459 million Swedish krona (US$50.6 million), also within the forecast range. An average revenue per unit (ARPU) figure offered for the Nordic focus of the business is 146 krona (US$16.07).

In the non-Nordic markets, the fourth quarter saw 145 million Swedish krona in revenues (US$16.1 million), which indicates an annual growth level of 41 percent, the company reports. Outside the Nordic countries, Storytel’s average number of subscribers grew by 43 percent, per the report from Stockholm, reaching 736,700 paying subscribers, by comparison to fourth-quarter 2020. This indicates annual non-Nordic growth of 220,700 paying subscribers, and an average revenue per unit level of 66 krona (US$7.26).

Jonas Tellander

CEO Jonas Tellander is quoted in today’s report, saying, “Despite high market penetration levels, our Nordic segment continues to grow at a solid pace of 15 percent.

“Our recent introduction of a student subscription has been successful and contributes positively to [contribute to] subscriber growth. In order to continue to attract new subscribers and increase customer lifetime, we will accelerate our investments in exclusive and premium content, such as Storytel Originals.”

Speaking of the non-Nordic part of the business, Tellander is quoted today, saying to investors, “Revenues came in within our forecast range, while subscriber growth somewhat below.

“We see early positive momentum from new product offerings including several holiday campaigns introduced during Q4, which we expect to reap the benefit from during Q1 as these customers convert to paying customers.

“Additionally, we see continued strong momentum in Poland, Russia and Turkey as investments kick in, whereas growth in the Netherlands was somewhat slower than anticipated.

“We are also starting to see positive momentum in the Latin American region after an extended slump [relative to] the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Subscriber growth in India continues to be slow in the fourth quarter, as recurring payments were banned earlier in 2021, leading to a temporarily increased churn. Recurring payments were re-introduced in November, which hopefully will have a positive effect on subscriber growth in 2022.”

An underpass in Liljeholmen, a district in southern suburban Stockholm. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Alexander Farnsworth

The Coronavirus in Sweden

David Nikel reports for Forbes today that Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, has announced that starting Friday (January 24), “all licensed premises must close by 11 p.m., with seated service only and a limit of eight people in a group. There are also new restrictions on public gatherings and events,” he writes, “which will impact anyone hoping to travel to an event in Sweden in the coming weeks.”

As Aina J. Khan reported for The New York Times on January 4, the nation’s king and queen, Gustaf and Silvia–both in their 70s–have tested positive with “mild symptoms,” as has the crown princess, Victoria, 44,  and prince, Daniel, 48, per multiple news reports in Europe.

With cases at historic highs, Sweden has recorded a seven-day rolling daily average of 14,552, new cases on Friday (January 7) reaching 41,383.

At this writing, the 6:21 a.m. ET (1121 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees on a 28-day rolling basis, 187,433 cases in Sweden’s population of 10.4 million, with 186 fatalities.

During the full run of the pandemic, Sweden has reported a total 1,416,650 cases and 15,377 deaths.

More from Publishing Perspectives on audiobooks is here. More from us on Storytel is here, and more on subscriptions is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.