Disney Dishes Out $1B for 33% Stake in MLB’s BAMTech Streaming Business
The Walt Disney Company has acquired a 33% stake in BAMTech, the technology services and video streaming company previously formed by Major League Baseball (MLB). As part of the transaction, which was first reported by several outlets in June, BAMTech has been separated from MLB’s broader digital business, MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM). In addition, BAMTech will collaborate with Disney-owned ESPN to launch and distribute a new ESPN-branded multi-sport subscription streaming service “in the months ahead.”
Disney’s investment in BAMTech – already a global provider of direct-to-consumer streaming services, data analytics and commerce management with nearly 7.5 million total paid subscribers to its clients’ OTT products – will provide capital to accelerate growth of its proprietary video-delivery platform, deliver greater flexibility to clients and develop new technologies and capabilities.
As part of the transaction, BAMTech will become a key partner for Disney in the delivery and support of streaming video and other digital products from Disney|ABC Television Group and ESPN, as well as future digital initiatives across the Company.
“Our investment in BAMTech gives us the technology infrastructure we need to quickly scale and monetize our streaming capabilities at ESPN and across our company,” Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company, said in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with BAMTech as we explore new ways to deliver the unmatched content of The Walt Disney Company across a variety of platforms.”
BAMTech will also collaborate with ESPN to launch and distribute a new ESPN-branded multi-sport subscription streaming service in the future. The direct-to-consumer service will feature content provided by both BAMTech and ESPN, and include live regional, national and international sporting events. Current content on ESPN’s linear networks will not appear on the new subscription streaming service. More details about the new service will be announced in the months ahead.
“Bringing a multi-sport service directly to fans is an exciting opportunity that capitalizes on BAMTech’s premier digital distribution platform and continues ESPN’s heritage of embracing technology to create new ways to connect fans with sports,” said John Skipper, ESPN President and Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks. “As WatchESPN continues to grow and add value to the multichannel video subscription, this new service will be an outstanding complement.”
BAMTech’s roster of sports, news and entertainment clients includes HBO NOW, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, the PGA TOUR, WWE Network and Ice Network (digital platform for professional figure skating).
“Every day the powerful partnership of technology and content becomes more important to consumers,” said Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. “We are excited to get to work with Disney and our longtime partners at ESPN in the important and ever-changing area of content distribution.”
Following Disney’s acquisition of a stake in BAMTech, the National Hockey League received a minority interest in BAMTech, as the result of a previous agreement.