The International Cycling Union (UCI) and US-based entertainment giant Discovery have announced plans to collaborate on the creation of a new UCI Track Cycling World League.
The series, due to launch in November 2021 and will run until February 2022 for its first season, sees Discovery-owned Eurosport Events serve as its commercial promoter. It will oversee the management, TV production, distribution, and commercial and media rights sales, initially for the next eight years.
This marks Eurosport Events’ first move outside of motorsports, where it works with competitions from the likes of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and International Motorcycling Federation (FIM).
Global Cycling Network (GCN), the digital media brand acquired by Discovery in January 2019 as part of a wider deal with Play Sports Group (PSG), will also help oversee the competition’s operations, particularly around content creation and digital distribution.
Scheduled to begin in the 2021/22 cycling season, the six-round Track Cycling World League is being billed as a short format competition that the organisers believe will be better suited for TV viewing. Each event will be around two hours and focus only on sprint disciplines.
The competitions programme for the new league features four events for men and women; individual sprint, keirin, elimination race and scratch race.
Discovery-owned Eurosport will broadcast the Track Cycling World League through its linear channels and streaming platforms, though François Ribeiro, head of Eurosport Events, has confirmed sublicensing deals will be sought in territories where the pan-European broadcaster does not operate, both exclusively and non-exclusively.
The announcement regarding the new series comes shortly after Discovery revealed that the new GCN over-the-top (OTT) platform will be going live in 2021. The Track Cycling World League will bolster the dedicated cycling service’s live content offering. This also includes all three cycling grand tours, most of the UCI World Tour calendar, several other cycling events, as well as an extensive user ecosystem designed to serve cycling enthusiasts.
“The partnership with the UCI demonstrates what the scale and expertise of the wider Discovery family can offer partners in sport, providing both highly localised content to the widest variety of audiences as well as offering unrivalled expertise, analysis and storytelling from the best experts,” said Andrew Georgiou, president, Eurosport and global sports rights and sports marketing solutions.
“Combining this strength in cycling with Eurosport Events’ promotional know-how and the global scale of Discovery’s channels and platforms, including Eurosport and GCN, we are confident we will build the UCI Track Cycling World League into a huge success.”
UCI president David Lappartient added: “With this new UCI circuit, the discipline will have a packed and attractive annual calendar that offers variety and will meet the expectations of new audiences while also appealing to existing cycling fans. Along with our new partner, we will grow the appeal of track cycling beyond the Olympic Games, where it has been on the programme since the very first Games of the modern era, in 1896.”