Eurosport owner Discovery Communications has taken a 20 percent stake in Play Sports Group, the company behind Global Cycling Network and ShiftActive Media. This will enable the YouTube broadcaster to add staff, open an office in America and expand its online content. ShiftActive Media was founded by Simon Wear, the former chief operating officer for Future Publishing (and who started with the media group as ad sales manager for MBUK magazine).
Play Sports Group currently has 60 staff. Wear will lead the new group, and he hopes to expand the staff to 150. GCN had 29.2m video views in January this year.
“Passion for cycling is the biggest it’s ever been and as a lifelong fan 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. 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, CEO of Eurosport, added:
“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 favourite sports content whenever and wherever they choose to access it."
Eurosport was started in 1989 and was taken over by Discovery in 2014. It has 243 million subscribers across 99 countries – the channel currently broadcasts 200 days of cycle racing, including the Tour de France.
Ralph Rivera, managing director, Eurosport Digital, and Sameer Pabari, senior vice president of business development at Eurosport will join the Play Sports Group board. The current investor group includes Tony Ball, ex of Sky and BT, Paul Bolwell, ex of Wiggle, and Humphrey Cobbold, also ex of Wiggle.