The Walt Disney Company is dishing out US$1 billion to acquire a 33% stake in BamTech, a leading technology services and video streaming company previously formed by Major League Baseball (MLB).
Under the terms of the transaction, Disney will pay the amount 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 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.
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 BamTechh 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.
Disney’s investment in BamTech – already a player 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 monetise 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.”
“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,” he added.