Extending a string of aggressive digital investments, Disney Tuesday said it was acquiring 33% of BAMTech, the tech services and video streaming operation launched by Major League Baseball.
The deal, which will see Disney pay $1 billion in two installments over the next 18 months, gives the company the option to acquire a majority stake in the coming years. BAMTech is also separating from MLB upon the announcement Tuesday.
Disney will use the new asset, which it hopes will prove as transformative as recent acquisitions such as Marvel and Lucasfilm, to launch a new direct-to-consumer OTT app for ESPN. Separately, the company said AT&T/DirecTV will be including ESPN, Freeform, Disney Channel and other nets in its OTT bundle.
BAMTech, which launched in 2000 and pioneered sports streaming starting in the Web 1.0 era, has spearheaded the launch of a range of OTT services for the likes of HBO, WWE and many other top-tier video and TV entities. The company’s properties have 7.5 million total paid subscribers to its clients’ OTT products.