VGTV’s cabin reality show creates subscription boom

By Camilla Brække

VGTV

Oslo, Norway

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A reality show hosted by one of Norway’s biggest influencers, Mads Hansen, led to a subscription boom for VG. He invited seven of the nation’s funniest people on a spectacular trip to a cabin. Unlike a regular trip to the cabin, though, there was only one rule: No laughing allowed.

“Ikke lov å le på hytta” (“Not allowed to laugh in the cabin”) ended up as one of the greatest successes in VG+ history.

The cabin reality show attracted a lot of young subscribers and was VGTV’s first attempt to put an entertainment show behind paywall.

The cabin reality show was VGTV’s first attempt to put an entertainment show behind paywall.
The cabin reality show was VGTV’s first attempt to put an entertainment show behind paywall.

“We reached a whole new audience and gained new, young subscribers,” said Jane Throndsen, head of paid content for VG. “Every media organisation needs the crazy ones, the ones that believe that everything is possible — that a small idea can make a huge difference. Those we find in VGTV.”

The launch strategy

“Ikke lov å le på hytta” merged into a series of seven episodes, each with a duration of 15 to 20 minutes. The first episode was accessible for free on VG.no and attracted around 750,000 viewers. More than 20% of the viewers were younger than 25 years old, and 85% of them were younger than 45 years old.

The remainder of the episodes were placed behind a paywall. One episode was unlocked every week and could then be viewed for free. By paying for VG’s premium subscription service, VG+, viewers could instantly binge everything. It turned out that a lot of young people wanted to binge “Ikke lov å le på hytta” — and a large portion of them are new VG+ customers.

VGTV.no was rebuilt in only six months during the pandemic.

The secret sauce

Host Hansen was deeply involved in the entire process of the show’s creation. He said he had a hope the show would be a hit, but not in his wildest dreams that it would be such a collective euphoria.

The show hit very wide and shows that laughter is a universal thing, Hansen said.

Mads Hansen hosted the unique reality show.
Mads Hansen hosted the unique reality show.

The secret sauce behind the launch strategy of “Ikke lov å le på hytta” is that it combined exposure in social media in addition to a variety of VG universes. The concept has a strong social media content value for all participants and is highly engaging for their followers.

CEO of VGTV and director of strategy at VG, Thomas Manus Hønningstad, said entertainment content from VGTV will be an important part of the content offerings on VG+ in the future, and there are already several new concepts under development.

Cabin reality season 2

The first season of “Ikke lov å le på hytta” was recorded in one day with 16 remote cameras. It was recorded in Sjusjøen, two hours outside of Oslo, Norway’s capital city.

The plans for the next season are ready, said Head of Programmes Martin Jøndahl. “It is always fun when good content is seen by many, so we are very happy with this.”

Season 2 of “Ikke lov å le på hytta” will play out in a summer cabin. One of the contestants in season 2 is likely to be a real joker, who no one would have thought to see in such a setting.

It will be exciting to see who laughs first.

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