Warner Bros Discovery announced on Thursday that, following the imminent closure of the GCN+ streaming service after Tuesday, December 19, coverage of pro cycling will be available through its Max streaming platform. The lineup includes most of the racing that GCN+ showed, plus a Eurosport-produced pre- and post-race show called The Breakaway.
That’s the good news. The bad news is Max doesn’t have the full lineup of races GCN+ once did, it’s not available everywhere that GCN+ was, and it’ll cost considerably more. Cycling coverage won’t start until February, meaning that fans of cyclocross and the Tour Down Under will have to look elsewhere for coverage of those events (in the United States and Canada, FloBikes has picked up the Superprestige, X2O, and Exact Cross cyclocross series for the remainder of the season and has the TDU as well).
Max is the service formerly known as HBO Max and, as such, a number of households already have it. It includes a number of channels under the WBD banner, including HBO, CNN, Discovery Channel, and others. But for subscribers in the United States, cycling coverage will only be available through the Bleacher Report Sports add-on option, a cost premium over the base subscription. Here’s everything we know so far:
What does the Max cycling coverage lineup include?
We’ve asked for a full calendar and will share when that’s available. The lineup appears to be most but not all of the old GCN+ slate:
- All RCS events: Giro d’Italia, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche, and Tour of Lombardy
- Some cobbled classics including E3 Prijs and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
- Mountain bike World Cup series
- UCI Track Champions League series
- Most women’s WorldTour events, including the Giro Donne
- Max is claiming more than 300 of the world’s biggest racing events
- We don’t yet know if this is live only or also includes replay on-demand
What it does NOT include:
- ASO events (Tour de France/TdF Femmes, Paris-Roubaix, Vuelta a España etc.)
- Flanders Classics (Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders etc.)
- Cyclocross, at least for the remainder of the 2023-2024 season
- Olympic Games
How much does it cost?
This is US pricing, but Max is available in three tiers: $10 month/$100 annual with ads; $16 month/$150 annual ad-free; $20 month/$200 annual “Ultimate” ad-free, which offers 4k video quality (when available) and streaming on more devices. That gets you the main Max package. In the United States, subscribers will also need to select the Bleacher Report Sports add-on, for $10/month. All told, it’ll cost you between $220-$320 per year (annual pricing), which is of course a significant premium to GCN+ at $50 a year.
In the US, race fans will also still need Peacock for all ASO events ($60/year), and likely now need a FloBikes subscription ($150/year) for the Flanders Classics and cyclocross. Previously, it was possible to watch those races on GCN+ through a VPN. All this means costs for American fans for race watching are quite a bit higher than they were for 2023.
Wait, I’m in Europe, does this apply to me?
Nope: in most of Europe, GCN+ subscribers can simply switch to the Discovery+ app, which costs £60/year but includes all of GCN+’s former lineup, without the splits that US viewers will deal with. In some countries, coverage is on the Eurosport Player app.
What about other territories outside of Europe?
We don’t have firm answers on this yet, as the press release from Max focused on the US audience. Max subscribers in other countries may have access to its cycling coverage and, since the Bleacher Report Sports option is a product for the domestic US market, if Max does offer coverage to international subscribers, it’s unknown if cycling coverage will be part of the main Max package or require a different add-on.
OK, what else do I get with this … Bleacher Report Add-On?
So glad you asked. B/R includes live sports coverage of the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, and college basketball’s NCAA Tournament (men’s and women’s). But that coverage may have local blackouts, and isn’t substantially different than what you’ll find if you’re a cable subscriber.
Are there any other options?
Nothing smooth or easy. To access the European version of Discovery+, you’ll need a credit card with a billing address located inside the region. If you signed up for Eurosport a long time ago (before it was requiring a geolocated billing address and credit card), you may find that you can continue your access there, but you can’t start a new account now.
Most major races are streamed in their home country by major broadcast networks (RAI for RCS events, France Televisions for ASO, etc.). It may be possible to directly access those streams with a VPN, but broadcasters are becoming better every year at sniffing out VPN use. And that often doesn’t cover smaller races you may want to watch.
We’ll keep asking for clarifications, and stay tuned for our annual “how to watch pro cycling” guide coming in early 2024.
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