Discovery has announced the purchase of a 71% controlling stake in Play Sports Group – the digital sports media company behind market-leading cycling brands Global Cycling Network (GCN), Global Mountain Bike Network (GMBN) and Global Triathlon Network (GTN).
The deal is said to underpin ‘Discovery’s ambition to build the number one cycling media ecosystem worldwide, leveraging its position as the global leader in live sports and a premiere rights holder for cycling events in Europe – through its principal sports brand Eurosport.’
In partnership with Play Sports Group, Discovery will ‘create the first global ecosystem combining the best of community, content, lifestyle and events for the large and growing number of cycling enthusiasts – [valued as] a US$50bn global market.’
Discovery originally took a 20% stake in Play Sports Group in February 2017. This additional investment increases Discovery’s ownership of Play Sports Group, which will become a subsidiary of Discovery. Play Sports Group Founder and CEO, Simon Wear, and his team of 140 cycling experts across content, creative, digital, marketing and sales services, will join Discovery, forming a new global cycling-focused division in the company.
Founded in 2012, Play Sports Group owns and operates eight cycling video channels generating over 45 million video views every month, with 5.7 million social followers and 3.1 million subscribers. During 2018, Play Sports Group launched five new international channels, a consumer retail division and fan club, and broadcasts live racing on its YouTube channels and via Facebook Watch.
Discovery’s investment in the Play Sports Group strengthens the company’s strategy of ‘powering people’s passions by developing brands and products that super serve global communities of fans and enthusiasts’.
The new proposition creates opportunities to develop a significant direct-to-consumer offering for cycling fans around the world. Discovery has recently announced a pioneering strategic alliance with the PGA TOUR to create a new international multi-platform home for golf. The company has since launched GOLFTV and expanded its rights portfolio as it moves towards becoming the established digital home of golf for fans around the world.
Eurosport, part of the Discovery Sports family, is the number one sport destination in Europe and the leading TV rights holder for key cycling events, establishing a portfolio that includes all three Grand Tours, more than 35 UCI World Tour races, including all five Monuments, and the UCI World Championships.
In 2019, cycling fans will enjoy over 200 days and 2,500 hours of live cycling on Eurosport and its all-access, live and on-demand, streaming service, the Eurosport Player.
Commenting on the deal, JB Perrette, President and CEO at Discovery International, said “This is another important step in Discovery’s strategy of being the global leader in brands and products that power people’s passions. I couldn’t be more excited to partner with Simon, a fantastic entrepreneur, and his terrific team to help turbo charge the expansion and globalisation of the Play Sports Group.”
Peter Faricy, CEO, Global Direct to Consumer at Discovery, added “Our partnership with Play Sports Group accelerates our global direct-to-consumer sports strategy and gives us an unprecedented opportunity to create a single global cycling destination for fans around the world. Discovery and Play Sports Group share a consumer-obsessed philosophy centred on a deep understanding of super-fans and creating content that inspires, informs and entertains, taking them closer to the sports they love.
“We know the value Play Sports Group bring to our portfolio and we’re excited by the possibility of building a 360-degree proposition that combines the strength of their digital-first, fan-centric content, alongside Eurosport’s premium live broadcasting rights and existing direct-to-consumer platforms.”
Founder and CEO of Play Sports Group, Simon Wear, said “I am tremendously proud and excited for Play Sports Group to join the Discovery family. As a fan and community-focused business, we could not be more perfectly aligned with Discovery’s deep-rooted history in serving passionate, specialist audiences with super high-quality content.
“Since Discovery’s initial investment in PSG, we have worked closely with JB Perrette and his team and it has become increasingly clear that, as innovative direct-to-consumer businesses, we have a shared vision of how to super-serve fans’ ever-evolving needs. The combination of Discovery and Eurosport’s leading package of cycling rights, its resources, infrastructure and company philosophy, combined with Play Sports Group’s massive community of cycling fans means we have a phenomenal package.
“The opportunity to build a world class digital destination, in multiple languages, for cycling fans the world over is one that’s just too good to miss.”
Discovery Sports is a global leader in live sports with extensive brands and exclusive partnerships with premium sports and events, including: Eurosport and the Eurosport Player, the Olympic Games, the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, La Vuelta a España, The Championships – Wimbledon, US Open, Roland Garros, Australian Open, ATP Tour, Bundesliga, English Premier League, UEFA Europa League, Eliteserien, PGA TOUR, Six Nations Rugby, FIS Ski World Championships, Moto GP and Formula E to name only a few.