While not yet in profit, Storytel has made impressive gains over Q4 2017, with overall revenue up 27% on the period, while streaming revenue rose 47%.
CEO Jonas Tellander confirmed total subscribers now at 533,400, in keeping with a TNPS estimate last month.
The lack of profits should come as no surprise given Tellander continues to plough revenue back into the business.
Last year Storytel launched in India and Spain, and has already managed one new launch this year in Iceland –
with by unconfirmed TNPS estimates further launches imminent in Italy, Turkey and Bulgaria, and the UAE probable, as this Storytel logo in Arabic on a Linked-In page for Storytel UAE suggests.
Tellander himself confirms a total of six new market entries are planned this year. See below.
Tellander expects subscriber levels for Storytel to rise to 572,000 in Q1 2018 and to have 800,000 subscribers by the year’s end, with Storytel platforms in fifteen countries.
Currently Storytel is in ten counties – Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, India and Iceland – and was rumoured to be aiming for a launch in the United Arab Emirates in 2017.
That last one didn’t happen, but the UAE (along with the just launched Iceland), and the suspected imminent Bulgaria, Italy and Turkey, were among the thirty countries showing as prospects on the Storytel international homepage. The others being the US, UK, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Romania, South Africa and Switzerland. Currently the links for these countries take us to an option to be put on the waiting list for further news.
But as reported in TNPS in December, Storytel is well ahead with publisher engagement in Italy –
and as noted in the Iceland launch as above, Bulgaria and Turkey are also candidates to be next in line, with acquisitions in both countries last last year..
Recapping there, Tellander says six new countries for 2018, and Iceland is now live, so five to go. If the TNPS estimate that Italy, Turkey, Bulgaria and the UAE are next in line that still leaves one more country we can only wildly guess at. Never one to play it safe, I’ll put a marker on either Romania, Czech Republic or Switzerland as the final Storytel addition for 2018.
In the CEO statement, Tellander revealed that global listeners enjoyed 136 million hours of audiobooks, of which 37 million hours were produced in-house, up from 28 million hours in 2016.
According to Tellander,
The Swedish book market (including physical books) has during recent years been showing healthy growth thanks to Storytel and other streaming services, and grew during 2017 by 4.2 %. The Streaming segment in Sweden grew by 50% during 2017 to 509 MSEK, of which Storytel accounted for 429 MSEK (84% market share).
In a comment that may raise eyebrows in some quarters, Tellander added,
We’ve been clear about our strategy of leading each market we establish our service in, and we currently hold this position in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and The Netherlands. We’re in second place in Finland and Poland, but aim to lead these markets within a few years. Our new markets Spain, Russia, India and Iceland will together contribute a significant number of new subscribers in 2018.
The raised eyebrows will be in relation to India, where Amazon’s Audible is set to launch this spring, and the established Audible markets like the US and UK which are on the Storytel website as future prospects.
In the past we’ve chosen to start new markets more cautiously, but for 2018 we’ve chosen a more aggressive strategy for winning new-market subscribers. This is possible due to the comprehensive data Storytel now have collected of which we have gained an understanding of how to scale our business with low or limited risk.
Our goal for streaming is to have 800,000 subscribers in fifteen markets by the end of 2018, as opposed to 550,000 subscribers in nine markets at the end of 2017, an increase of 250,000 subscribers, equivalent to 45% subscriber growth.
Netfonds Bank has the Storytel numbers in detail, including how Storytel is doing with its print divisions, and also the full CEO statement from Tellander, in English.
Storytel also deals with ebooks, but there is no separate breakdown of Storytel ebook activity, suggesting ebooks remains a sideline for Storytel despite the acquisition of the successful Mofibo ebook subscription service in Denmark.