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Disney Ups OTT Video Aspirations With $1B Investment in BAM Tech

9 Aug, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Company is a spin-off from Major League Baseball Advanced Media

The Walt Disney Co. Aug. 9 affirmed its move into consumer-direct distribution of video content with a $1 billion (33% ownership) investment in BAM Tech, the $3 billion backend digital technology company owned by Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM).

MLBAM currently operates MLB.com and MLB.tv, the latter a subscription streaming platform featuring live access to all out-of-market regular season games. BAM Tech provides streaming video service for several companies, including WWE TV and HBO Now.

Disney will utilize BAM Tech for planned OTT video launches involving ABC and ESPN, among other properties. Under the deal, 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.

“Our investment in BAM Tech gives us the technology infrastructure we need to quickly scale and monetize our streaming capabilities at ESPN and across our company,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement.

Indeed, ESPN is eyeing a standalone SVOD service that would feature content separate from its flagship pay-TV network, including live regional, national and international sports.

Current content on ESPN’s linear networks would not appear on the new subscription streaming service.

“Bringing a multi-sport service directly to fans … continues ESPN’s heritage of embracing technology to create new ways to connect fans with sports,” John Skipper, ESPN president and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, said in a statement. “As [TV Everywhere app] WatchESPN continues to grow and add value to the multichannel video subscription, this new service will be an outstanding complement.”

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