Disney ESPN

Last month, we told you about Disney buying an increased stake in BAMTech, Major League Baseball’s digital arm. Last year, Disney bought 33% of the company and increased its share to a controlling 75 percent this year. This week, the federal government approved Disney’s purchase.

In August, Disney paid $1.58 billion for an additional 42% of BAMTech, bringing its total share to 75%.

Part of the reason for its increased stake was to launch over the top services for ESPN and Disney content. Since the move, Disney announced it would pull its movies from Netflix and house them on its in-house streaming service. ESPN is also preparing to launch its direct-to-consumer over the top product in 2018.

While it won’t have the same games as the linear ESPN, it will have 10,000 regional, national, and international events, including MLB and NHL content that are streamed through BAMTech and MLS games, tennis and college sports.

In addition to streaming live sports, BAMTech is the home to various online services, including Eurosport, HBO Now, PGA Tour Live, PlayStation Vue, and WWE Network.

From last month’s announcement, Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger said its purchase of a majority stake of BAMTech is in line with its digital strategy for the future:

“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.”

So with the feds signing off, Disney now can forge ahead with its streaming services plans. The Disney over the top service will launch in 2019 with exclusive content, including the Star Wars movies, and that year’s theatrical movies, including the Frozen sequel and live-action shows.

Disney is positioning itself as a digital player and the increased stake in BAMTch, now federally-approved, will do just that.

[Broadcasting & Cable]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.