Report: Disney Eyeing Stake in MLB Streaming Company15 Apr, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel
The Walt Disney Co. reportedly is considering an ownership stake in BAM Tech, a unit of MLB Advanced Media created last year to handle the league’s over-the-top video properties — and co-owned by team owners and the National Hockey League. BAM Tech also handles distribution of select ESPN digital properties such as TV Everywhere platform WatchESPN — all of which is owned by Disney.
The advanced negotiations were reported by re/code.net, which cited sources familiar with the situation. Indeed, with Disney recently launching its first standalone SVOD service — DisneyLife — in the U.K. and China, scuttlebutt suggests the multimedia conglomerate would eye BAM Tech as a means of extending its digital brand.
While some may argue the nation’s pastime has become too slow in today’s attention-challenged on-demand market, pro baseball has long been a first-mover in digital distribution through MLB.tv. Launched in 1995 as a website, MLB.tv featured audio-only game streams. The $130 annual service now offers out-of-market live and on-demand HD video telecasts of all 30 MLB teams.
BAM Tech is also the backend tech provider for HBO Now, HBO Go and WWE Network, among other properties. With the unit’s growing expanse in digital distribution, MLB Advanced Media wants to maximize BAM Tech’s incremental value by spinning it off.