The Walt Disney Company has picked up a 33-percent stake in the video-streaming outfit BAMTech, with plans to launch a new ESPN-branded OTT service.
BAMTech was formed by Major League Baseball (MLB), but has now separated from MLB’s broader digital business, MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM). Disney will pay $1 billion for the minority interest in two instalments, now and in January 2017, and has the option to acquire majority ownership in the coming years.
BAMTech will collaborate with Disney to launch and distribute a new ESPN-branded multi-sport subscription streaming service. The direct-to-consumer platform will feature content provided by both BAMTech and ESPN, including live regional, national and international sporting events. It will not include current content on ESPN’s linear networks.
Additionally, 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,” said Robert A. Iger, the chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “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.”
Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. stated, “Every day the powerful partnership of technology and content becomes more important to consumers. 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.”
“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’s president and co-chair of Disney Media Networks. “As WatchESPN continues to grow and add value to the multichannel video subscription, this new service will be an outstanding complement.”