Discovery buys into Global Cycling Network

Digital-headerGCNDiscovery has bought into Play Sports Group, the digital media business that runs the popular Global Cycling Network online (GCN) channel.

The deal hands Eurosport-owner Discovery a 20% stake, for an undisclosed fee, and a seat on the Play Sports board.

Eurosport holds an array of TV rights to cycling events – including the three annual Grand Tours – while GCN has proved an irreverent and popular online cycling channel. Play Sports also runs the Global Mountain Bike Network (GMBN) and across its cycling channels reaches about 20 million users a month.

The company was created four years ago by Simon Wear, the former COO of publishing business Future, which houses several cycling brands of its own.

GMBNThe GCN (top) and GMBN (left) channels publish 1,100 videos a year. They do not have coverage of races, but report from a host of events with rider interviews, as well as reviews, tips and other cycling content.

Discovery led the funding round, which also saw existing investors including former Sky boss Tony Ball providing the business with extra funds.

Ralph RiveraEurosport’s digital boss Ralph Rivera, and Sameer Pabari, SVP business development, Eurosport, will join the newly formed executive board at Play.

“I’m delighted to have Discovery Communications and its leading sports brand Eurosport join our incredible list of investors and advisors,” said Simon Wear.

“Thanks to our team of investors, we’re able to make our business ambitions possible. Their backing and financial support enables us to really turbo-charge the next phase of growth, bringing around 150 new people to digital and creative roles.”

Peter-HuttonPeter Hutton, CEO of Eurosport, added: “Eurosport’s community of cycling fans is among the most passionate and devoted in sport, so we are excited to deepen our position as home of cycling even further.

“This deal turns up the volume on the Eurosport’s Digital business, which includes Eurosport Player – the all- access on demand digital pass, and – Europe’s No 1 online sports news website.”