In its Q2 2016 earnings call with investors today, Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger revealed that it plans to launch an ESPN SVOD service by the end of the year, with the help of BAMTech, a video streaming tech company founded Major League Baseball (MLB).
The news came in the wake of an announcement earlier today that Disney had acquired a 33% minority stake in the company. As part of the deal, BAMTech was separated from MLB’s larger digital business, MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM). Disney will pay $1 billion in two installments, now and in January 2017, and it has the option acquire majority ownership in the future.
In the immediate wake of the Disney deal, the National Hockey League (NHL) received a minority interest in BAMTech, per the terms of a previous agreement. BAMTech’s roster of clients also includes HBO NOW, the PGA Tour, WWE Network and the figure skating platform the Ice Network.
The proposed ESPN channel will feature MLB and NHL content already licensed by BAMTech, and “we will add content that ESPN has licensed… college sports, football, basketball, tennis, rugby, cricket,” said Iger during the call, but it will be content not already carried by ESPN’s linear TV channels.
BAMTech will also be used to develop streaming video and other digital products from across the Disney|ABC Television Group and other future Disney digital initiatives across the company
During the call, Iger also revealed that a bundle of Disney channels — including ESPN, ESPN 2, ABC, Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney Junior — will be one of the packages offered in AT&T’s DirecTV Now streaming service, scheduled to launch in Q4 2016.