The Walt Disney Company will acquire majority ownership of BAMTech and will launch its ESPN-branded multi-sport video streaming service in early 2018, followed by a new Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service in 2019.
As a result, Disney will end its distribution agreement with Netflix for subscription streaming of new releases, beginning with the 2019 calendar year theatrical slate.
The new Disney-branded service will become the exclusive home in the US for SVOD viewing of live action and animated movies from Disney and Pixar, which includes Toy Story 4, the sequel to Frozen, and The Lion King from Disney live-action. Disney will also make a significant investment in an annual slate of original movies, TV shows, short-form content and other Disney-branded exclusives for the service. Additionally, the service will feature a collection of library content, including Disney and Pixar movies and Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD television programming.
The ESPN-branded multi-sport service will offer approximately 10,000 live regional, national, and international games and events a year, including Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, Grand Slam tennis, and college sports. Individual sport packages will also be available for purchase, including MLB.TV, NHL.TV and MLS Live.
Under terms of the BAMTech acquisition, Disney will pay $1.58 billion to acquire an additional 42% stake in BAMTech from MLBAM, the interactive media and internet company of Major League Baseball. Disney previously acquired a 33% stake in BAMTech under an agreement that included an option to acquire a majority stake over several years.
“The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships between content creators and consumers, and our control of BAMTech’s full array of innovative technology will give us the power to forge those connections, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts in the market,” said Robert A. Iger, chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company.
“This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the company, one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands.”