The Walt Disney Company today announced that it has invested $1 billion for a 33 percent stake in BAMTech, a company “leading” in technology services and video streaming. BAMTech was originally formed by Major League Baseball, but has now been separated from the broader MLB Advanced Media business as part of this transaction. As part of the partnership, 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.”
Notably, BAMTech will work with ESPN to launch an ESPN-branded multi-sport streaming video service in the future…
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According to the announcement, the ESPN streaming service will be direct-to-consumer and feature both ESPN branded content and BAMTech content. The streaming service will live stream regional, national, and international events. Unfortunately, content that currently aired on ESPN will not appear on the new subscription service. At this point, it’s unclear if that means that if ESPN is airing a live game, that it also won’t be available on the streaming service. But it definitely refers shows like SportsCenter and other in-house ESPN content.
Disney says that we’ll learn more about the streaming service “in the months ahead.”
The announcement of an ESPN streaming service comes as we’ve learned a bit more as to the reasons why Apple never launched the oft-rumored web TV package. A report last month explained that it was very much Apple’s harsh terms and tough negotiations that led to the demise of the subscription service. The report noted that ESPN content was part of the lineup that Apple had once negotiated for.
Now, in the public eye at least, Apple has shifted its focus to apps, proclaiming that the “future of TV is apps.” Cue has pointed to services like CBS All Access, HBO Now, and others as ways for networks to offer their content to Apple TV users. The Apple executive explained that if a cable company such as Comcast wanted to offer a cable package through Apple TV, they could. “If Comcast or any other provider wants to do that, they’ll be able to do that with the current Apple TV,” Cue said.
There’s no set launch date for ESPN’s streaming service yet, but you can read the full press release below:
Disney Investment will Accelerate Growth of Leading Technology and Direct-To-Consumer Video Streaming Company
BAMTech will Enhance Digital Delivery of Disney, ESPN and ABC Programming
New ESPN-Branded Multi-Sport Direct-To-Consumer Service to be Launched
Burbank, Calif. – August 9, 2016 –The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) today announced that it is acquiring a 33% stake in BAMTech, a leading technology services and video streaming company previously formed by Major League Baseball (MLB). As part of the transaction, BAMTech was separated from MLB’s broader digital business, MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM).
Under the terms of the transaction, 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.
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.
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,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, 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.”
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.”
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.
BAMTech grew out of MLBAM, the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball. 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