DISCOVERY takes controlling stake in Play Sports Group & SHIFT Active Media

Bath-based Play Sports Group – including the Global Cycling Network, Global Mountain Bike Network, Global Triathlon Network and SHIFT Active Media – is joining Discovery Inc, which has bought a 71% controlling stake.

Discovery Inc took a 20% stake in Play Sports Group in February 2017 and this move makes the firm a subsidiary of Discovery.

Discovery is aligning itself as a primary TV rights holder for cycling events in Europe through Eurosport – covering all three Grand Tours and all five Monuments, plus the UCI World Champs – and foremost creator of cycling-orientated digital video.

Simon Wear founded Play Sports Group in 2012 – two years after SHIFT Active Media, which is part of the group. The Group employs 140 cycling experts and owns eight cycling video channels with some big stats: Over 45m video views a month, 5.7m social followers and 3.1m YouTube subscribers.

Simon Wear, Founder and CEO of Play Sports Group, said: “I am tremendously proud and excited for Play Sports Group to join the Discovery family. As a fan- and community-focused business we could not be more perfectly aligned with Discovery’s deep rooted history in serving passionate, specialist audiences with super high quality content.

“Since the Discovery investment in PSG in February 2017 we have worked progressively more closely with JB Perrette and his team, and during this time it has become increasingly clear that we share a vision of innovative direct-to-consumer business. The combination of Discovery and Eurosport’s leading package of cycling rights, its resources, infrastructure and company vision 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.”

JB Perrette, President and CEO at Discovery Networks International, said: “This is a hugely important investment that aligns fully with Discovery’s broader strategy of super-serving passionate fans across screens with valuable demographics and growth potential. This deal underpins Discovery’s principle sport focus of owning verticals, allowing us to offer fans the best possible experience and immerse them fully in the sports they follow every day.”

Peter Faricy, CEO, Global Direct to Consumer at Discovery Inc., 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 bring 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.”