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Global Cycling Network set to close GCN+ and GCN app in December due to “changing media industry landscape”

The decision to close the streaming service comes as parent company Warner Brothers Discovery prepares to sell the Bath-based Play Sports Network

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.

GCN+ 2023

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 in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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37 comments

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Squiffy | 8 months ago
0 likes

I've used Eurosport for the last few years. It doesn't have the extra content available on GCN but otherwise I've watched virtually all the years racing from the one day classics to the tour of Gaungxi, mostly add free and for the bigger races from start to finish. It's possible the price will increase, what hasn't recently, but at the moment it still quotes £39.99 renewal next August.

 

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a1white | 8 months ago
2 likes

looks like I'll be watching ITV4 highlights of the TdF then. No way I'm paying Discovery+ prices.

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Boopop | 8 months ago
4 likes

Anyone else scrambling to find a way to download content from the GCN+ website? 🦜

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leedorney | 8 months ago
3 likes

This has killed cycle online...typical Americans screwing things up as always!

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kil0ran replied to leedorney | 8 months ago
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First Outside with CyclingTips and now this. Sadly seen it in other sports over the years F1, MotoGP, SBK. All have suffered and fans just get shafted.

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Glov Zaroff replied to leedorney | 8 months ago
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How has it killed cycling online? You can watch all the live races via Discovery+ or Eurosport via their websites.

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Dicey replied to Glov Zaroff | 8 months ago
1 like

.......yes with adverts. Adverts during live sport - I'd say thats a killer. I barely watch GCN on youtube since the adverts started cropping up every 2 mins.

 

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Rendel Harris replied to Dicey | 8 months ago
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No ads on Discovery+ online.

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longassballs replied to Rendel Harris | 8 months ago
1 like

Neither on the Eurosport app

Can't really recommend it, though there's little choice now. It's horrible to use and it's buggy. It's also not available on Apple. They used to always offer a 12 month subscription for half price on black Friday (£20) but remains to be seen if they will this year

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Jakrayan replied to Rendel Harris | 8 months ago
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I spend at least half the year in Asia, including during the Spring Classics and the latter part of the road season too. Eurosport Android app stopped working here some years ago even with a VPN as it insisted on your location being switched on. Delighted when GCN+ became available as it would show nearly all content without the use of a VPN and there was a native app for the TV as well. Not only that, but thanks to the GMT +7 time difference staying up to watch the end of races could be a bind, so being able to stream the content on demand later was an extremely useful feature. 

Plenty of comments here and elsewhere about how you'll be able to watch live racing (I could always plug my laptop in via HDMI and use a VPN if it's territory restricted, less convenient but doable) but no mention as to whether we will be able to watch the bigger races and highlights on demand as we can now.

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SecretSam replied to Glov Zaroff | 8 months ago
1 like

Glov Zaroff wrote:

How has it killed cycling online? You can watch all the live races via Discovery+ or Eurosport via their websites.

Because you're also losing all the original content, the one-off annual subs rate (£40 pa) and the ad-free content. 

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ibr17xvii replied to SecretSam | 8 months ago
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SecretSam wrote:

Glov Zaroff wrote:

How has it killed cycling online? You can watch all the live races via Discovery+ or Eurosport via their websites.

Because you're also losing all the original content, the one-off annual subs rate (£40 pa) and the ad-free content. 

 

IME Discovery+ for the most part has the 1 hour highlights that would be on Eurosport including the ad's but also has the live uniterrupted feed of races that GCN+ would show ad free.

Losing the documentaries & the increase in cost obviously isn't great though.

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glenjamin | 8 months ago
4 likes

The customer comms on this are terrible!

As a UK-based subscriber I received an email saying I'll be refunded, but it offered no links to any alternative ways to get the content - especially if it's still available via tha parent company, that's a bit of a mess

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dc9876 replied to glenjamin | 8 months ago
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You can get it all by signing up to Discovery+. £6.99 p/m not £39.99 p/a though

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quiff replied to glenjamin | 8 months ago
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Yep, and none of this market context either - just "it's closing". Can't say I blame them for consolidating though, the number of subtly different platforms to receive the same content was a mess.  

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Yian replied to quiff | 8 months ago
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It's not the same content, GCN was ad free and showed the entirety of the race. Also no guarantee the documentaries will be available.

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quiff replied to Yian | 8 months ago
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Fair point. I guess what I really meant is that there was a bewildering array of different options from the same group of companies on how to watch a given race, each of which was subtly different but not adequately explained. 

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Paul J replied to Yian | 8 months ago
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Daniel Lloyd on twitter has stated they don't know what's going to happen to the documentaries either.

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Surreyrider replied to glenjamin | 8 months ago
1 like

I thought I was going mad when I read the email offered options to get the content. Glad I'm not!

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Veloism | 8 months ago
2 likes

Yep, a real shame. I've been to their offices a few times and they are good people. Hopefully they can minimise the job losses.

You're now looking at £7.99 per month for racing content on Eurosport - a significant increase in cost, and you won't get the GCN feature content which was usually pretty good.

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Surreyrider replied to Veloism | 8 months ago
1 like

So we'd be paying a lot more for a lot less. I enjoyed most of the GCN content I watched - and my viewing definitely increased over winter.

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lio | 8 months ago
9 likes

This is sad news.  GCN+ was really high quality content.

diccovery+ is lowest form of rubbish.  So low even Warner Bros don't bother capitalising the discovery+ name as an acknowledgement it's not very important.

Any GCN+ content that remains is going be mixed in with celebrity haunting shows and documentaries about "sister-wives".  Crap; unadultorated crap.

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Left_is_for_Losers | 8 months ago
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Where is best to watch racing now? Including highlights, road racing and CX on demand etc?

It's a beggar, I was looking forward to all the CX races on there over the winter. 

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Glov Zaroff replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 8 months ago
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All the cycling is still there. It's produced and broadcast by Warner Discovery, but GCN+ had access to the streaming and playback. Even the D+ user interface is near enough the same as GCN+. The latter must have just poached the coding for their own app. 

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Secret_squirrel replied to Glov Zaroff | 8 months ago
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I thought I saw on Simon Warrens twitter that the Discovery price was much higher though?

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Secret_squirrel replied to Secret_squirrel | 8 months ago
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I was right.  I believe TNT Sports is only available in the top tier package at 29.99 a month.   They have just killed the golden goose compared to £39.99 annually for GCN+

https://www.cordbusters.co.uk/discovery-plus-uk-revamp-bigger-bills/

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Rendel Harris replied to Secret_squirrel | 8 months ago
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Secret_squirrel wrote:

I was right.  I believe TNT Sports is only available in the top tier package at 29.99 a month.  

You don't need TNT sports for the cycling though, the standard package at £6.99 per month includes both Eurosport channels and all the cycling – TNT is just for those who also want the Premier League, premiership rugby et cetera.

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Rendel Harris replied to Secret_squirrel | 8 months ago
1 like

Secret_squirrel wrote:

I thought I saw on Simon Warrens twitter that the Discovery price was much higher though?

Discovery+ standard, which includes all the cycling, is £6.99 per month, so (I think? I use Discovery+) exactly the same as paying monthly for GCN+, but there is no discounted yearly rate so obviously a big price hike from the £39.99 for a yearly subscription for GCN+.

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bobbypuk replied to Rendel Harris | 8 months ago
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We do get some extra adverts to enjoy as well. Always a winner during live racing.

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Rendel Harris replied to bobbypuk | 8 months ago
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bobbypuk wrote:

We do get some extra adverts to enjoy as well. Always a winner during live racing.

I watch it online, no ads.

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