UCI-Discovery partnership details emerge for a new World Cup
Many World Cup mountain bike fans were surprised when earlier this spring the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced that Red Bull would no longer be broadcasting the downhill and cross-country series.
Red Bull has been providing free, live broadcasts of the Mountain Bike World Cup for a decade now. While it wasn’t perfect, the issues were mostly minor. More importantly, Red Bull has massively expanded the audience and audience for XC and DH racing.
That success and the announcement that the broadcast rights would change hands for 2023 left many fans wondering what next season would look like.
Now the UCI has offered the first hints of what the 2023 World Cup mountain bike series will look like.
Where to go from here? What will 2023 look like?
First, Warner Bro.’s Discovery (WBD), or their event promotion wing Discover Sports Events, will partner with current Enduro World Series organizers (Enduro Sports Organization).
According to a press release on the EWS website, the new partnership has big plans. This includes a “new vision for the sport that will for the first time provide a more uniform platform for the various formats of mountain biking.”
Given that cross-country and downhill are already broadcast on the same network, under the same name and often in the same place, it seems likely that UCI-Discovery-EWS could do something to combine DH, XC and of enduro in the same weekend. . Given that the press release was accompanied by a collage of photos of the three disciplines together, this is more than a slight possibility.
The model given by the UCI and EWS is Discovery’s success in launching the Track Champions League in 2021. The difference being, of course, that track cycling is a discipline with a much narrower fanbase and geographically centralized. Mountain biking is already a popular, rapidly growing and relatively international sport.
One possibility following this model is the creation of a new additional series. The Champions League on track did not replace the Nations Cup events organized by the UCI. Instead, it’s an invite-only series on top of the Nations League schedule. Discovery-UCI-EWS could create a similar “Champions League” style series for mountain biking, where only the best athletes in each discipline are invited to compete.
Will live streaming still be free?
For many fans, the first question was whether the World Cup broadcast would remain free or not. It is one of the last free cycling disciplines to watch.
In view of the organizations taking control of the World Cup, this is unlikely. But that’s not necessarily bad news.
Warner Bro’s-Discovery portfolio includes Eurosport, GCN, GMBN, Discovery+ and more, just in cycling. These networks host over 200 road, track, BMX, cyclocross and mountain bike events. While yes, most of them are pay-to-view shows, they have a much wider reach than Red Bull. Specifically, they offer traditional TV and cable streaming options as well as online shows.
In the words of WBD, this means “the own ability to bring the UCI World Cup to a large-scale audience and reach millions of people around the world through its platforms”. This reach will be “supported by an in-house media agency established to maximize distribution through partner broadcasters on a territory-by-territory basis.”
The UCI-Discovery partnership is contracted for a period of eight years, from 2023 to 2030.
Chris Ball, CEO of ESO Sports:
“The next eight years will see a new era for mountain biking racing and events and we are proud and excited to lead the sport with the UCI from 2023. This is an incredible opportunity to continue the development of mountain biking, with the power of one of the world’s largest media companies and live sports producers behind us. For the first time, all mountain bike formats will have a central point of leadership capable of amplifying the sport 365 days a year, championing athletes, supporting team growth and elevating the sport worldwide .
“Building on the brilliant work done within cross-country, downhill, enduro and e-MTB over the past few years, we will begin this incredible long-term project 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 world’s greatest sports and within the homeland of cycling. Over the next few years, we will improve the environmental credentials of this cycling discipline, advance course design, innovate safety standards and offer fans a whole new experience, all while making mountain biking more accessible than ever.
UCI press release:
An eight-year partnership signed between the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and Warner Bros. Discovery will see the emergence of a new UCI Mountain Bike World Cup from 2023.
As part of this partnership, two of Warner Bros. Discovery, Discovery Sport Events and Enduro Sports Organization (owner and operator of the Enduro World Series) will join forces to ensure the organization, production and distribution of media as well as the promotion and marketing of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
Building on the popularity and audience growth of mountain biking over the past decade, the new approach will bring innovation to the fan experience on-site and on-screen to continue to grow the base of fans and improve the global footprint of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
The partnership between the UCI and Warner Bros. Discovery for mountain biking covers the period 2023 to 2030. The agreement concludes a period of exclusive negotiations after an extensive bidding process.
David Lappartient, President of the UCI, declared: “I am delighted with our partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery, which will take our UCI Mountain Bike World Cup to the next level. Discovery Sports Events has already done wonders with track cycling – thanks to the innovative UCI Track Champions League – and I know that the exciting discipline of mountain biking will also benefit from their expertise, their deep understanding of the expectations of athletes and fans. , and the increased visibility that this partnership will bring. Mountain biking will get the boost it deserves as we work together for the future of this vast and varied discipline.
Further details on the 2023 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup will be announced shortly.