Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

GCN sold back to founder by Warner Brothers Discovery, website to close

The sale comes six months on from the closure of GCN+ as race coverage moved to Discover. The closure of the GCN website will lead to numerous job losses

Global Cycling Network (GCN) has been sold back to its founder and CEO, Warner Bros. Discovery confirming the deal on Wednesday 12th June. As we understand it, this does not mean that the GCN+ streaming platform will be returning any time soon, but the GCN brand will continue operating as it is currently on "YouTube, and other social platforms". The GCN website, however, has stopped operating with immediate effect, leading to several job losses. 

Play Sports Network's Companies House records note that founder Simon Wear and CEO Mia Walter have this week been appointed as directors, with the company's registered office address also returning to GCN's Bath office.

Yesterday afternoon, Warner Bros. Discovery confirmed the sale to us, sharing a press release that said it was passing back a majority stake in Play Sports Network but would retain a minority stake to work with "leadership on the long-term development of the business".

In September, it was reported that Warner Bros. Discovery was looking for a buyer for Play Sports Network, this week's deal coming six months after GCN+ was shut due to a "changing media industry landscape", namely the parent company wanting to consolidate live cycling coverage output as part of its Discovery+ service, leaving no place for the cycling streaming platform.

> What's the best way to watch live cycling following the closure of GCN+?

In a press release shared with road.cc on Wednesday afternoon, Warner Bros. Discovery claimed the partnership had been "part of amplifying Warner Bros. Discovery's position as the 'home of cycling'" and "both organisations will continue their considerable efforts to serve the cycling community and cycling audiences".

"Warner Bros. Discovery has today confirmed the sale of a majority stake in Play Sports Network to its founder, Simon Wear, and CEO, Mia Walter," a company spokesperson explained.
 
"Play Sports Network and the leading cycling community brands it operates, including Global Cycling Network (GCN), has been part of Warner Bros. Discovery since it acquired a majority stake of Play Sports Network in 2019. During the time of Warner Bros. Discovery's majority and whole ownership, Play Sports Network's brands were part of amplifying Warner Bros. Discovery's position as the 'home of cycling', with Eurosport continuing to provide premium cycling coverage for viewers across Europe. 
 
"Warner Bros. Discovery is retaining a minority stake with a view to working with Play Sports Network's leadership on the long-term development of the business.
 
"Both organisations will continue their considerable efforts to serve the cycling community and cycling audiences. Play Sports Network will continue to operate its cycling brands delivering digital content across YouTube, and other social platforms. Warner Bros. Discovery maintains its focus on world-class live cycling coverage through Eurosport on linear television and its streaming services Max and Discovery+, offering the widest range of men's and women's races anywhere, including more than 1,000 cycling broadcasts per year. 
  
"Warner Bros. Discovery (then Discovery, Inc.) first invested in Play Sports Network in 2017, before taking a majority stake in 2019, and the business outright in 2021."

road.cc has contacted Play Sports Network for comment but had not received a reply at the time of publication. We understand GCN will be closing its website with immediate effect, leading to several job losses. 

Discovery, which merged with Warner Brothers in 2022, first bought a 20 per cent stake in the Play Sports Group in 2017, before taking full ownership in 2021 in a deal that valued the business, which also includes Global Mountain Bike Network and Global Triathlon Network, at £70 million.

According to its Companies House accounts, Play Sports Network, which employs around 200 UK staff, generated revenues of £17.2 million in 2021, but made a loss of £10 million.

> The rise & fall of GCN+ – is the livestream party over for cycling fans?

In November, GCN founder Wear said it was "hugely disappointing" that GCN+ and the GCN app were to close, the move coming after Warner Brothers Discovery opted to move live cycling content (which it owned the rights to) to its Discovery+ platform.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

Add new comment

13 comments

Avatar
a1white | 1 month ago
3 likes

That's sad news about the website, it was a new addition after they closed the app. I guess it's not revenue earning and they feel the YouTube channel can survive with negligiable loss without it. To be honest, I haven't really got into the habit of looking at the site, but watch lots of GCN videos. I hope they can make it work out. I do think GCN is good for the bike industry and promoting cycling in a positvive light. in a way it's good it is back to it's original founders. Does this mean that Cillian is out of a job?

Avatar
espressodan | 1 month ago
4 likes

"It's the changing media landscape" says WBD as they drive a bulldozer across the media landscape.

Also, the Discovery+ app is almost hilariously bad, but it makes me angry that in actually paying for such a poor product. GCN+ app wasn't great, Discovery+ is incompetent.

Avatar
STATO | 1 month ago
1 like

The problem is Youtube wants 'channel viewers' to like everything the 'channel' produces, and if they dont then the channel doesnt get promoted. 

So when your 'channels' like GCN and GMBN produce varied and different content across a week then people innevitebly wont like some of it, and that impacts negitively on the channel.  Its why so many popular hosts in other fields are leaving big channels and setting up on their own, and why many also have second channels for alternative types of videos.  

Avatar
Velophaart_95 | 1 month ago
0 likes

Waiting for the comments on Pinkbike/VitalMTB about the MTB World Cup rights to returning to Red Bull in 3, 2, 1.......

Avatar
ROOTminus1 | 1 month ago
1 like

This is disappointing, but entirely unsurprising behaviour from WBD. I wonder if this will result in a shift back away from quantity over quality for the YT content.

GCN has always kept its core identity, even if it has been heavily watered down with filler and egregious sponsored videos, but GMBN definitely lost its way somewhere along the line and that is exactly where Ben Cathro is thriving for Pinkbike, the only thing propping up the knobbly tyred wing is Blake Samson and his freeride connections.

Avatar
eltel5150 | 1 month ago
6 likes

Makes the nonsense around GCN+ all the more sad.  WBD bought GCN then stripped it, gutted it and have now tossed the carcass back into the water. 

I hope Oli is enjoying his trip in the Italian Alps because I think he'll be paying his own fare next time...

Avatar
Glov Zaroff replied to eltel5150 | 1 month ago
2 likes

eltel5150 wrote:

WBD bought GCN then stripped it, gutted it and have now tossed the carcass back into the water. 

What did they strip from GCN? 

Avatar
muppetkeeper replied to eltel5150 | 1 month ago
0 likes

It's typical American hyper-capitalist behaviour, take something good, sack everyone you can, strip assets then piss off.  See Cadburys / UK cable networks / manufacturing.  Sadly they haven't pissed off out of Cadbury / Virgin Media yet, but the service you get from them is shocking.

Avatar
Global Nomad | 1 month ago
0 likes

would be helpful to know if WBD sold back all rights or justthe bits they didnt want...i.e are they keeping the live coverage parts that fit more comfortably in their portfolio. I used GCN+ to watch the grand tours and other bits and pieces, but only watched highlights on youtube since they tried to make us sign up for a broader tv package. 

Avatar
Glov Zaroff replied to Global Nomad | 1 month ago
3 likes

Global Nomad wrote:

would be helpful to know if WBD sold back all rights or justthe bits they didnt want...i.e are they keeping the live coverage parts that fit more comfortably in their portfolio. 

You do realise that GCN/GCN+ never owned the rights to live cycling don't you? The live cycling is owned, produced and broadcast by Eurosport/WBD. GCN/GCN+ were only given access right to it and that access was taken away last year. 

 

Avatar
Global Nomad replied to Glov Zaroff | 1 month ago
0 likes

the right to broadcast it, yes, thats what i was referring to.

Avatar
Freddy56 | 1 month ago
0 likes

will gcn come back live?

Avatar
Glov Zaroff replied to Freddy56 | 1 month ago
0 likes

Freddy56 wrote:

will gcn come back live?

No.

Latest Comments