Discovery Nabs Majority Stake in Online Cycling Platform Play Sports Group

David Zaslav - Getty - H 2018
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images for Discovery, Inc.

David Zaslav

The acquisition comes as Discovery moves deeper into sports content, most recently with a content partnership with the PGA Tour and Tiger Woods.

Discovery Communications on Tuesday said it has picked up a 71 percent stake in the U.K.-based digital cycling brand Play Sports Group.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the move follows Discovery's recently unveiling a multiyear global content pact with its Golf TV streaming service, which will launch in 2019 under a deal with the PGA Tour and Tiger Woods. Discover — which includes the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC and OWN — has looked to diversify into sports programming on the strength of its Eurosport pay TV channel to become the ESPN of Europe.

Play Sports Group operates Global Cycling Network and Global Mountain Bike Network as digital cycling brands that produce over 1,000 online videos a year available on YouTube for cycling enthusiasts, with 5.7 million social media followers. There's no word on U.S. market plans for Discovery's expanded cycling platform, but the company in a statement said the deal "creates opportunities to develop a significant direct-to-consumer offering for cycling fans around the world."

Discovery earlier acquired a 20 percent stake in Play Sports Group in February 2017. Nabbing the majority stake in Play Sports Group is an attempt to leverage Eurosport's position as a leading broadcaster of live professional cycling events as Discovery builds out a global cycling-focused division.

"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," Play Sports Group founder and CEO Simon Wear said in a statement.

"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," he added.

Wear and his management team will remain with Discovery and operate Play Sports Group as a subsidiary.