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Discovery bolsters cycling ambitions by raising Play Sports Group stake

US media group Discovery has significantly increased its stake in digital sports media company Play Sports Group, furthering its effort to create the world’s leading cycling media ecosystem.

Discovery originally took a 20-per-cent stake in Play Sports Group, which operates Global Cycling Network, Global Mountain Bike Network and Global Triathlon Network, in February 2017.

Under the deal announced today (Tuesday), Discovery has now secured a 71-per-cent controlling stake, making Play Sports Group a subsidiary of the company. Play Sports Group founder and chief executive, 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.

Through the deal, Discovery will seek to leverage its position as a leading 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 $50bn (€43.7bn) global cycling market.

Peter Faricy, chief executive of global direct-to-consumer at Discovery, said: “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 brings 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.”

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.

Wear added: “Since Discovery’s initial investment in PSG, we have worked closely with (president and chief executive) 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.”