Discovery Buys into Play Sports Group


LONDON: Discovery Communications has purchased a 20-percent stake in Play Sports Group, the digital sports media company behind the brands Global Cycling Network (GCN) and Global Mountain Bike Network (GMBN).

With its investment, Discovery also gains a seat on the Play Sports Group board. In January 2017, Play Sports Group reached more than 20 million cycling fans with content posted across its YouTube channel and its Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat profiles. The company will launch further channels in cycling and across other sports, hiring up to 150 people for newly created digital and creative roles over the next two years— predominantly based at its headquarters in Bath in the U.K., as well as a small number based in new international offices.

Discovery leads this latest round of funding, which also has been supported by its existing investor group—including Andrew Croker (chairman), Oli Slipper (non-exec director), John Gleasure and Stef D’Anna (Perform), Tony Ball (ex-Sky and BT), Paul Bolwell (ex-Wiggle) and Humphrey Cobbold (Pure Gym, ex-Wiggle). Ralph Rivera, the managing director of Eurosport Digital, and Sameer Pabari, the senior VP of business development for Eurosport, will join the newly formed executive board.

Simon Wear, the founder and CEO of Play Sports Group, said: “Passion for cycling is the biggest it’s ever been and as a lifelong fan, I know it’s one of the most robust and enduring sports that’s ever existed. I’m delighted to have Discovery Communications and its leading sports brand Eurosport join our incredible list of investors and advisors. It’s extremely clear how determined and smart they are in the development of their digital business, and we’re really looking forward to working with the team.

“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. There’s an audience of hundreds of millions of cycling fans around the world, and together we’ll get closer to them than ever before.”

Peter Hutton, the CEO of Eurosport, commented: “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. Working with a digital media company that is squarely focused on cycling is an excellent proposition for Eurosport to align with, and it’s another example of how we’re nurturing sports communities and making sure viewers have access to their favorite sports content whenever and wherever they choose to access it. This deal turns up the volume on Eurosport’s digital business, which includes Eurosport Player—the all- access on-demand digital pass, and—Europe’s number one online sports news website. With the Play Sports content integrating our brand and services, this multifaceted partnership will be a winning result for advertisers, partners and most importantly, for fans of cycling.”