Swedish television initially developed as a public service monopoly. In 1969, a second channel was established. Commercial competition increased when cable networks began to distribute satellite channels. In 1987, the first Swedish satellite channel, TV3, began broadcasting from the United Kingdom. In 1992, public service radio and television was divided into two companies, one for radio and one for television. Further, there is a public service company dedicated to production of educational programs. In the same year, a commercial terrestrial TV channel, TV4, was permitted. TV4 is owned by the Bonnier Company, whereas its main competitors, TV3 and Kanal 5, are owned by Modern Time Group (MTG) and Discovery Communications, respectively. Bonnier, MTG and Discovery Communications control a significant share of the market for commercial television in Sweden, making the Swedish television market one of the most concentrated in Europe in terms of ownership.
In 2007, digital terrestrial television was fully introduced, making Sweden one of the pioneers of the new technology.
Public service television is organised by Sveriges Television (Swedish Television - SVT). It has traditionally been the main actor in the television area. It broadcasts through three main channels: SVT1, SVT2 and Barnkanalen (The Children’s Channel). SVT1 is the more popular and broader channel, whereas SVT2 is profiled as more specialised, as is The Children’s Channel. The television market share for the three main SVT channels in 2015 was about 35 percent.
Today the main commercial television channel is TV4 (with 20 percent of the TV market in 2015), competing primarily with a number of satellite channels, the biggest of which are TV3 (5), Kanal 5 (5), Sjuan (5), TV6 (4) and TV8 (3). Of the commercial channels, only TV4 and TV6 are so-called free channels, which, together with the public service channels, are available at no cost in the terrestrial net. TV4 is the broadest commercial channel in terms of programming profile, whereas the others are almost exclusively oriented towards entertainment. In recent years, TV4 has also moved in the direction of more entertainment-oriented programming.
A general feature of the commercial channels, as well as of the public service channels, is the division into a family of channels, a development in the direction of audience fragmentation. The Bonnier broadcasting group operates 24 channels aimed at the Swedish market, whereas MTG and Discovery Communications operate 22 and 13, respectively.
About 80 percent of all Swedes watch television daily. Average viewing time is about 120 minutes per day. In comparison to other European countries, the time spent watching traditional television is low in Sweden.
Since commercial television was introduced in Sweden at the beginning of the 1990s, the advertising market for broadcast television has expanded. In 2015, television advertising had a market share of about 17 percent.