The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) said it is acquiring a 33% stake in BAMTech, a leading technology services and video streaming company previously formed by Major League Baseball (MLB). Disney will pay $1 billion in two installments, now and in January 2017, and has the option to acquire majority ownership in the coming years.
As part of the transaction, BAMTech was separated from MLB’s broader digital business, MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM). 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.
Disney’s investment in BAMTech – already a global leader in 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.
“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,” said Robert A. Iger, chairman and chief Executive of Walt Disney.
“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.”
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.
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.
Since it was founded in 2000, MLBAM has been an award-winning digital business at the forefront of the digital revolution in delivering world-class experiences and distributed content through all forms of interactive media. Its proprietary technology provides direct-to-consumer video solutions, especially for live events with high viewership, offering viewers high-quality visuals anytime, on any device.
Its video platform back-end technology provides flexibility to personalize and enhance content-viewing experiences and is capable of serving live content to tens of millions of consumers around the world. BAMTech’s growing 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 (the leading digital platform for professional figure skating).