The latest results from Storytel offer no surprises but also, sadly, no real detail beyond what we’ve come to expect.
On target for one million subscribers by end 2019, Storytel hit 887,500 subscribers in Q2, an increase of 53,200 on Q1.
The forecast was 800,000, and a predictable press release says simply,
Storytel therefore surpasses the forecast of 880,000 paying subscribers and further solidifies its position as a market leader for subscribed digital services for audiobooks and e-books in the Nordic region and northern Europe.
Q2 revenue of SEK 320 million ($33.9 million) beat a SEK 313 million forecast, putting annual growth at 37%.
But important to remember here that while Storytel is now in 17 markets, most of the growth in subscribers and revenue is coming from the Nordics.
The press release notes that,
The average number of paying subscribers in Q2 2019 in the Nordic region amounted to 669,200 (9,200 ahead of forecast and at 26% growth), with SEK 276 million (6 million ahead of forecast).
Storytel Jonas Tellander added,
Starting in July, VAT on digital books will be reduced in Sweden, Norway and Finland, which presents opportunities for us to further develop our customer offering and at the same time, thanks to our revenue-share model with the publishers, improve earnings for authors.
Storytel to gift its VAT bonus to publishers, quelling disquiet about royalties under the new pay per minute system
All well and good, but what about the non-Nordic Storytel saga?
There were 218,300 subscribers in the Non-Nordic segment on average in Q2 2019, which corresponds to an increase of around 30,000 paying subscribers compared to Q1 2019 and is very close to the previously published forecast of 220,000. Annual subscriber growth amounted to 140%. In the Non-Nordic segment, streaming revenue amounted to approximately SEK 44 million ($4.6 million) in Q2 2019, which is in line with the forecast.
Storytel launched In Germany in Q2 and has confirmed Brazil and South Korea launches to come, and likely Thailand this year too.
Storytel launches in Germany, leaving Brazil, Thailand and South Korea to come for 2019
What we’re not seeing here is any breakdown of how the newer Storytel markets are performing, and while that’s perhaps understandable for the most recent additions, some of the non-Nordic markets now have enough time under their belt to be showing results. Poland launched way back in February 2016, Russia, Spain and India in 2017.
The other thing we’re not seeing is just how the formats balance out.
When we think of Storytel we think of audiobooks, but Storytel also offers ebooks and digital magazines as part of the streaming package. Just last month the Ztory app bought an additional 700 newspapers and magazines to the Storytel catalogue.
Looking at the Storytel country websites it’s easy to lose sight of the digital reading element amid the digital listening opportunity, so it’s refreshing to see in this latest press release, Tellander say:
We are pleased and humbled by the strong growth in subscriptions, at the same time as the Storytel universe of reading and listening experiences is expanding.
But lets end here with a reminder of how Storytel opened its press release:
Storytel … solidifies its position as a market leader for subscribed digital services for audiobooks and e-books in the Nordic region and northern Europe.
Implicit in that being Storytel has yet to achieve market leader status anywhere else.
If and when that happens that will indeed be news.
But for the remainder of this decade, at least. we’ve probably had our full quota of surprises from this remarkable company.