BSkyB & News Corp Looking to Add New Cycling World Series

By Community | March 1, 2013

U.K.’s biggest pay-TV provider, apoplectic  BSkyB, story is in discussions about becoming a partner in a new cycling championship involving most of the teams that compete in the Tour de France, cheap according to media reports.

BSkyB wants to increase its involvement in cycling after bankrolling Team Sky, whose rider Bradley Wiggins last year became the first British winner of the Tour. News Corp. (NWSA), which owns 40 percent of BSkyB, is also interested in broadcasting the series outside the U.K., one of the people said. The people declined to be identified because discussions are private.

Originally described as a “breakaway” series when mooted 18 months ago by the former Manchester United executive Jonathan Price and Thomas Kurth, the former head of the now defunct G14 football clubs, it has evolved into an attempt to accommodate existing races and bring the UCI on board.

The potential World Series Cycling project is gathering pace as the sport’s ruling body, Union Cycliste Internationale, which has opposed it for more than a year, is weakened by the fallout from Lance Armstrong’s doping confession. A BSkyB executive and attorney met with a dozen teams on Feb. 13 in Geneva and another meeting about the project is scheduled for today in Paris, two of the people said.

“It’s an opportunistic move: it’s probably a time when people are in favor of a breakaway” championship, Tim Westcott, an analyst who covers BSkyB and sports rights for media consulting firm IHS Screen Digest, said.