Discovery Buys Stake in British Digital Sports Business

Discovery Communications said it bought a 20% stake in Play Sports Group, a digital sports media company.

Play Sports Group’s key brands are the Global Cycling Network and Global Mountain Bike Network. It reaches more than 20 million cycling fan with content posted on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

Discovery will take a seat on the board. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Play Sports will form a commercial partnership with Discovery’s Eurosport that will enable Play Sports to scale its business, the companies said.

“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,” said Peter Hutton, CEO of Eurosport.

“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,” Hutton said. “This deal turns up the volume on the 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.”

Play Sports will launch new 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, as well as a small number based in new international offices.

“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,” said Simon Wear, founder and CEO of Play Sports Group.

“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,” Wear said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.