There have been quite a few changes with the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup over the past few years, and many of them are going into effect this year. Last year was Red Bull’s final as the UCI’s media partner. It’s hard to say yet exactly what this will mean for the sport, as Red Bull broadcasted the events for free for everyone on its channel and gives mountain biking a lot of energy. The Enduro World Series was also absorbed by the UCI and is now EDR World Cup mountain biking.
But, the UCI felt they could reach even more potential fans through a partnership with Discovery Sports. Thus, as the first rounds of World Cup XCO and XCC kick off this weekend and next, viewers will be watching it on a new platform for the first time in 10+ years.
The UCI says there are more ways than ever to watch the World Cup, though pro finals will still require some sort of subscription to watch them live. Elite downhill semi-finals will be broadcast for free, as will U23 XCO and junior DH.
Where to watch UCI World Cup Mountain Biking
To watch live broadcasts of downhill, cross-country Olympic and short track elite finals, you’ll need to gain a membership to either Discovery+, Eurosport, or GCN+.
Memberships on GCN+ are available for about $9 a month or $50 per year and are available on web browsers, Amazon Fire, Apple AirPlay, and more. GCN+ looks like the way to go, and they have a whole lot of road racing too, including the Giro d’Italia, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Discovery+ memberships start at $5 a month, and Eurosport prices don’t appear to be advertised on their US site. And unfortunately for US residents, UCI mountain bike coverage will NOT be available on Discovery+; a press release notes it’s only available in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK and Ireland.
There are a few free ways to watch via YouTube, but they will be separated by category. U23 XCO races will be live on YouTube, as will Junior downhill and elite semi-finals. Highlights will also be available on YouTube and Instagram, according to the provided UCI chart above.
Enduro World Cup racing is unfortunately still hard to televise, but highlights are available on Instagram and YouTube relatively quickly after the event. We were wishfully thinking that the merger of the Enduro World Series and UCI and the shared weekends of some events would mean that the EDR is televised live in some way, but GCN+ says that it only plans to show highlight videos of the enduro rounds.
One would hope that if regular viewers of Red Bull’s free coverage now have to pay a subscription to watch on a different platform that the resources available to Warner Bros. Discovery would enhance the viewing experience.
According to the series, it will. “With over 20 cameras on course, supplemented by three camera drones, the mountain-biking viewer experience will be completely transformed at each event – offering fans entirely different angles from each venue and ensuring every major moment is captured in every single race – a first for the sport.”
It’s hard to say how the viewing experience will be different just yet and we’ll have to wait and see. Red Bull had multiple camera angles through courses as well as moving cameras/drones on some courses too.
The departure of Red Bull unfortunately means that host and commentator Rob Warner will not be a part of the successor. Discovery is starting with UK-based sports broadcaster Kate Mason who regularly covers soccer and French former mountain bike World Cup athlete Cedric Gracia. Other commentators will include enduro athlete Josh Carlson, UK journalist Hayley Edmonds, and Ric McLaughlin who had regularly been hosting EWS video recaps.
Overall, it’s a much different mix of sports journalists with some expert commentators like Carlson, McLaughlin, and Gracia rather than the athletes-turned-commentators like Warner, Eliot Jackson, and Tracey Hannah that Red Bull had in place previously.
No criticism of the GCN+ coverage, but it is disappointing that they removed it from Red Bull Media where it could be watched for free. Last year I encouraged my youth MTB team to watch the races to help them grow enthusiasm for the sport. I think they were much more likely to check it out when it was free. Now that it is on a very niche platform, the expansion of the audience seems less likely.
I don’t know much about these media markets work (and I suspect they are evolving rapidly), but I do know most of the kids I coach have never heard of Nino Schurter. All of those kids could get a clinic from watching Nino race. They would also be witnessing one of the historic all time greats of the sport in the pinnacle of his career.