Global Cycling Network has announced that it is closing its GCN+ service and the GCN app from 19 December, as the cycling streaming platform falls victim to parent company Warner Brothers Discovery’s strategy to consolidate its output in one place.
In a statement released today, GCN founder Simon Wear described the news as “hugely disappointing”, while GCN+ subscribers have been informed that they will be refunded on any payments to the service that stretch beyond 19 December.
European subscribers have also been offered the option to subscribe to discovery+ or the Eurosport app, “where they can continue to enjoy watching the live cycling content they access on GCN+”. For users outside Europe, the Bath-based company says it is “working to ensure they continue to have access to live content” and that they will keep customers “fully informed”.
GCN’s YouTube channels and recently established website will nevertheless remain in place despite the app’s closure.
Since its launch in 2021, GCN+ has provided live and on-demand streaming for over 300 days of professional bike racing a year, available on smart TVs, computers, and mobile phones, as well as producing its own review shows and exclusive documentaries on the history and culture of racing and cycling in general.
However, in September US media giant Warner Brothers Discovery announced that it was seeking a buyer for Play Sports Network, GCN’s parent company.
Discovery, which merged with Warner Brothers in 2022, first bought a 20 percent 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.
With Warner Brothers Discovery owning the rights to the live cycling content being streamed on GCN – and with the media giant recently consolidating all its entertainment and live sports content, including TNT Sports (formerly BT Sport) onto one platform – the sales process raised uncertainty over Play Sports’ access to the races and the future of its streaming service, an uncertainty that has culminated in today’s announcement confirming GCN’s closure.
In a video posted on GCN’s YouTube channel, presenter and former pro racer Simon Richardson, along with fellow presenter and ex-pro Daniel Lloyd, stressed that “the reason for [the app’s] closure is not because it didn’t work or it was underperforming. It’s that the media industry landscape has changed.”
In their statement today, GCN said that the “decision also means that we are refocusing Play Sports Network and its long-standing core brands, centred around the global cycling community and millions of fans served every day across GCN and its website, and leverage Warner Bros. Discovery’s scaled streaming products or partnerships for live content.”
It continued: “Play Sports has now delivered 7b+ views across its social media channels and is growing faster than it ever has so whilst disappointed we are more determined than ever to continue to be an even bigger and more positive force in cycling. We have many exciting plans and hope to have your continued support.”
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.