Discovery Buys 20 Percent Stake in Digital Cycling Video Firm Play Sports Group

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"We are excited to deepen our position as Home of Cycling even further," says Peter Hutton, CEO of Discovery's Eurosport.

Discovery Communications has made an investment in Play Sports Group, the digital sports media company behind cycling brands Global Cycling Network (GCN) and Global Mountain Bike Network (GMBN).

Discovery, which owns sports network Eurosport, led an investment round in the British company and acquired a 20 percent stake. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Discovery has been expanding its digital business. Among other moves, it has acquired a minority stake in RugbyPass, a digital content platform that reaches rugby fans across 23 Asian markets, and in the fall, it bought a minority stake in millennials-focused Group Nine Media, a new holding company that brought together Thrillist Media, Discovery's digital network Seeker and others, in a $100 million deal.

In January, Play Sports Group reached more than 20 million cycling fans with content posted across its YouTube channel and its Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat profiles, according to the firm. "Publishing more than 1,100 videos a year, its channels are focused on creating compelling, entertaining and educational videos presented with passion by a team of former professional athletes," the companies said. 

The investment and a commercial partnership with Discovery/Eurosport will enable Play Sports Group to "rapidly scale its business, bringing its content to cycling fans, wherever they are," the partners said. 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, England. 

Ralph Rivera, managing director, Eurosport Digital, and Sameer Pabari, senior vp business development, Eurosport, will join the company's newly formed executive board.

Said Peter Hutton, CEO of Eurosport: “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."

He added: "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 No 1 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.”