- Warner Bros. Discovery appointed to advance the sport of mountain biking in new eight-year agreement
- Warner Bros. Discovery to combine its extensive assets and expertise, including Discovery Sports Events and ESO Sports, to elevate mountain biking and reach a global audience
- New vision for the sport will provide more uniform platform for mountain bike’s different formats for the first time
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has selected Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) to deliver a new vision for mountain biking which will see the leading global media and entertainment company combine all its assets and expertise to elevate the sport and reach a new global audience.
To deliver a completely new vision for the future of mountain biking, the UCI will harness WBD’s global scale and vast media platforms, as well as collaborate with two of the company’s specialist organisations. This will see Discovery Sports Events join forces with the Enduro Sports Organisation (ESO Sports) to deliver the organisation, media production and broadcast, promotion and commercialisation of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
Discovery Sports Events, the global promoter and event management leader, will extend its relationship with the UCI to help promote the sport in support of further growing its global audience. ESO Sports, the owner and operator of the Enduro World Series and in whom WBD recently invested, will drive the project to globally unify mountain biking and elevate it to new levels, in collaboration with the UCI.
Building on mountain biking’s popularity, this new approach will also bring innovations to the on-site and on-screen fan experience in order to continue growing the fanbase and improve the global footprint of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
David Lappartient, UCI President, said: “I am elated by our partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery, which will take our UCI Mountain Bike World Cup to the next level. Discovery Sports Events has already worked wonders with track cycling – thanks to the innovative UCI Track Champions League – and I know that the exciting discipline of mountain bike will also benefit from their expertise, their in-depth understanding of the expectations of athletes and fans, and the increased exposure that this partnership will bring. Mountain bike will get the impetus it deserves as we work together for the future of this vast and varied discipline.”
Andrew Georgiou, President and Managing Director, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe, said: “Extending our relationship with the UCI to support the next phase of development and growth for mountain biking fits Warner Bros. Discovery’s expertise and ambitions perfectly. We will bring the scale of our global broadcast, streaming and online platforms to engage millions of people with the sport, as well as the capabilities of Discovery Sports Events and ESO Sports. Together they have the expertise and tools to develop the sport, alongside the understanding of the intricacies and existing strengths of mountain biking that are essential to best support the mountain bike community and grow the sport.”
Alongside the Olympic Games, the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup forms the pinnacle of the sport and sees the world’s best riders compete in multiple cross-country and downhill events throughout the season. Taken together, WBD’s cycling portfolio of content – across Eurosport, GCN+, GCN, EMBN, GMBN, discovery+ and more – already features more than 200 professional events across road, track, BMX, cyclo-cross, mountain bike, as well as all Olympic cycling disciplines.
Discovery Sports Events also partnered with the UCI as the founding global promoter who devised and delivered the game-changing UCI Track Champions League which launched in 2021.
The agreement concludes a period of exclusive negotiations and follows an extensive competitive tender. Further details around the 2023 season and calendar will be announced soon.
Discovery Sports Events, the Warner Bros. Discovery-owned event management division that today oversees more than 55 global events each year across 5 continents, will be responsible for the full range of commercial and event management services including promotion, broadcast production, media rights distribution, sponsorship, marketing, and ticketing.
Warner Bros. Discovery, alongside its Discovery Sports Events and ESO Sports expertise, was chosen by the UCI Management Committee following an in-depth tender process and evaluated as the most capable and experienced partner to empower the UCI to deliver its vision for mountain biking. In particular:
Ability to develop and promote a sport together with, and for, the athletes. Most relevantly shown by the early success and rider engagement around the UCI Track Champions League.
Opportunity to unite different formats of mountain bike and strategically expand the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup calendar around the world over the coming years, as it has already delivered together with partners such as the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIM) for several motorsport series.
Owned capability to bring the UCI World Cup to scaled audiences and reach millions of people globally through its platforms, such as discovery+, Eurosport, the Eurosport App, Global Cycling Network (GCN), Global Mountain Bike Network (GMBN) and GCN+. Supported by an established in-house media agency to maximise distribution through partner broadcasters on a territory-by-territory basis.
Event creation and management expertise, including enhancing the in-venue and on-screen fan experience, as well as the capability to create mass attended mountain bike events in the future.
Chris Ball, CEO, ESO Sports, said: “The next eight years will see a new era for mountain bike racing and events and we’re proud and excited to take the lead for the sport with the UCI from 2023. This is an incredible opportunity to further mountain biking’s development, with the power of one of the world’s largest media companies and producers of live sport behind us. For the first time, all mountain bike formats will have a central point of leadership that can amplify the sport 365 days a year, champion the athletes, support the growth of the teams and elevate the sport around the world.
“Building on the brilliant work done within Cross-Country, Downhill, Enduro and E-MTB in recent years, we will begin this incredible long-term project by working with riders, teams and destinations to bring the mountain bike community together at festival-style events celebrating the entire discipline. We will elevate mountain biking alongside the biggest sports in the world and within the home of cycling. Over the coming years we will improve this cycling discipline’s environmental credentials, push forward course design, innovate safety standards, and give fans an entirely new experience, whilst making mountain bike more accessible than ever before.”
François Ribeiro, Head of Discovery Sports Events, said: “It is hugely exciting to partner with the UCI and deliver a new vision for mountain biking. The long-term nature of the agreement means we have time to develop mountain bike and introduce innovations that will support this, whilst being aware of the strengths of the discipline today and the sizable and committed audience it attracts.
“As we have started to show as global promotor of the UCI Track Champions League, we have all the expertise and tools to help enhance and grow a sport for the better. This goes well beyond overseeing broadcast coverage and commercial rights, but to the heart of the sport from developing the calendar to the event experience, on-site and on-screen fan engagement, venue selection and management and much more besides. Together with UCI and our ESO colleagues, we can pull on all these levers at our disposal to grow every aspect of mountain biking for the benefit of everyone connected to the sport.”