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Audiobook streamer Storytel sees pandemic spurring subscriber growth

FILE PHOTO: A Storytel advertisement is seen on a bus in Stockholm, Sweden, May 18, 2017. Picture taken May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Helena Soderpalm

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish audiobook streaming group Storytel said on Tuesday it expected strong sales and subscriber growth to continue in the second quarter with pandemic-related lockdowns in many markets boosting demand for its services.

Storytel, which competes with the likes of Amazon’s Audible, said it expected to reach an average 1.25 million paying subscribers in the second quarter, up from 1.15 million in the first, and corresponding to 41% year-on-year growth.

It forecast quarterly streaming revenues of 458 million crowns ($46 million), up from 429 million during the January-March period, and a 43% rise versus the second quarter of 2019.

Chief Executive Jonas Tellander said in a statement that the lockdowns and quarantines in many markets had “fuelled peoples’ already high interest in audiobooks and the service we offer”.

“It is obvious that the popularity of audiobooks and the digital transformation of the book market are increasing in both speed and impact due to the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

Storytel, which operates in 20 countries and is currently loss-making due to heavy spending on an international expansion drive, made a quarterly loss before tax of 48 million crowns, compared with a 91 million loss in the year-earlier quarter.

Storytel shares are up more than 40% this year, and more than 80% since mid-March.

Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom, editing by Anna Ringstrom and Niklas Pollard

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