Disney is putting up $1 billion to buy a 33% stake in Major League Baseball’s BamTech as it looks to vastly scale and monetize the streaming capabilities at its sports network, ESPN, as well as future digital initiatives across the company.
The acquisition will see BamTech collaborate with ESPN to launch and distribute a new ESPN-branded multi-sport subscription streaming service. The SVOD will feature content provided by both BamTech and ESPN, and include live regional, national and international sporting events.
However, Disney confirmed it will not make current programming on ESPN’s linear networks available on the new subscription streamer, adding in a media statement that “more details about the new service will be announced in the months ahead.”
John Skipper, ESPN president and Disney Media Networks co-chair, said in a statement that the investment reflects the network’s growing interest in reaching sports fans beyond traditional cable packages, but not intended to take away from its linear audience.
Rather, he said, “As WatchESPN continues to grow and add value to the multi-channel video subscription, this new service will be an outstanding complement.”
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