As part of the deal, BAMTech has been separated from MLB’s broader digital business, MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM).
Disney will pay $1 billion in two instalments, now and in January 2017, and has the option to secure majority ownership in the coming years.
According to Disney, its 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.
It adds that 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.
Commenting on the deal, Robert A. Iger, chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company, said: “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.
“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. added: “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. It 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.
John Skipper, ESPN president and co-chair, Disney Media Networks, said: “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.
“As WatchESPN continues to grow and add value to the multichannel video subscription, this new service will be an outstanding complement.”
Following the acquisition, the National Hockey League has received a minority interest in BAMTech, as the result of a previous agreement.