Disney Deals $3.5B for MLBAM Stake – Report

Major League Baseball was an early adopter of streaming media, with the league's 30 team owners backing MLB.com and funding the start of MLB's Advanced Media (MLBAM) business back in the year 2000.

Today, those initial investments are paying spectacular dividends.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) is preparing to take a 33% stake in MLBAM in a deal worth roughly $3.5 billion. In addition, Bloomberg reports that Disney is negotiating an option to acquire a further 33% of MLBAM within four years, an investment that would enable Disney to carve out a significant role for itself in the video streaming market.

MLBAM doesn't only support online streaming for Major League Baseball games. It also helps to power streaming applications for many other sports and entertainment services, including HBO Now, the WWE Network and Disney's own WatchESPN. The company's offerings include strategic business and content consulting, user experience and product design, and digital marketing. (See also IP Video Services Explode at IBC.)

As evidence of MLBAM's success, Major League Baseball reported that fans averaged 71.4 million minutes and 10.4 million unique sessions per day of live media consumption through MLB.TV and the MLB.com At Bat app during the 2015 regular season. Forbes reports that MLBAM is projected to top $1 billion in revenue for 2016.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

danielcawrey 7/1/2016 | 1:06:18 PM
Streaming Tech It would seem as though Disney is looking specifically towards getting streaming technology right. The company already has some of this with its ESPN unit. But it's clear the company knows where the future lies and wants to be a leader in the space. 
bosco_pcs 7/1/2016 | 1:51:35 PM
Re: Streaming Tech IMHO, this is less about steaming per se than content, omni channel and pollinations, especially when baseball as a sport could cover a wide swarth of territories, demographically as well as geographically
mendyk 7/1/2016 | 5:00:22 PM
Re: Streaming Tech In terms of demographics, baseball probably more closely aligns with opera than anything else. Not much excitement there, at least as far as the prime area of eyeball interest is concerned.
bosco_pcs 7/1/2016 | 5:16:27 PM
Re: Streaming Tech I do enjoy Carmen :)

Kidding aside, perhaps it is a matter of definition and perspective with regard to demographics.

Even with projected 440 million people for the U.S., baseball is limited. However, it is a sport that already has a presence outside of the U.S. and it can be adopted without disadvantages like American football. Quite on the contrary, the moneyball is about analytics, something countries who are eager to show intellectual prowess may be enticed to adopt.

Yes, this is about what-can-be but the future belongs to those who dare to think big

Note: Japan & Taiwan have little leagues and the U.S. got quite a lot of players from Dominican Republic and very soon Cuba. Disney built huge theme parks in Asia and is planning to make movies in China. These are data points worth considering
mendyk 7/1/2016 | 5:30:38 PM
Re: Streaming Tech I'm sure there's great value in what MLB is doing on the technology side, streaming those endless innings of inaction as players spit, tug, adjust, and gird for the coming two seconds of anything-can-happen-but-probably-won't fun and suspense. And the marketers do a great job of making baseball seem exciting and relevant -- almost as good a job as those who are saddled with trying to make soccer seem something other than somnambulent to people who didn't grow up with it. Sabrmetrics -- which ushered in the analytics era of baseball more than 30 years ago -- has certainly had an impact on the sport, but what's funny about those analytics is the predictive value is questionable at best.
mendyk 7/1/2016 | 5:34:14 PM
Re: Streaming Tech Also, I've seen a couple of productions of Carmen. It's like the Game 6 of operas (inside reference for Mets fans).
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