Market Overview

The Walt Disney Company to Acquire Majority Ownership of BAMTech

Share:

ESPN Multi-Sport Video Streaming Service to Debut in Early 2018

New
Disney-Branded Direct-to-Consumer Streaming Service to Launch in 2019

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) today announced that it has agreed
to acquire majority ownership of BAMTech, LLC and will launch its
ESPN-branded multi-sport video streaming service in early 2018, followed
by a new Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service in 2019.

Under terms of the transaction, Disney will pay $1.58 billion to acquire
an additional 42% stake in BAMTech—a global leader in direct-to-consumer
streaming technology and marketing services, data analytics, and
commerce management—from MLBAM, the interactive media and Internet
company of Major League Baseball. Disney previously acquired a 33% stake
in BAMTech under an agreement that included an option to acquire a
majority stake over several years, and today's announcement marks an
acceleration of that timetable for controlling ownership.

"The media landscape is increasingly defined by direct relationships
between content creators and consumers, and our control of BAMTech's
full array of innovative technology will give us the power to forge
those connections, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to shifts
in the market," said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer, The Walt Disney Company. "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."

The ESPN-branded multi-sport service will offer a robust array of sports
programming, featuring approximately 10,000 live regional, national, and
international games and events a year, including Major League Baseball,
National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, Grand Slam tennis, and
college sports. Individual sport packages will also be available for
purchase, including MLB.TV, NHL.TV and MLS Live.

The new service will be accessed through an enhanced version of the
current ESPN app. In addition to the multi-sport service, the ESPN app
will include the news, highlights, and scores that fans enjoy today.
Consumers who are pay TV subscribers will also be able to access the
ESPN television networks in the same app on an authenticated basis. For
many sports fans, this app will become the premier digital destination
for all their sports content.

The new Disney-branded service will become the exclusive home in the
U.S. for subscription-video-on-demand viewing of the newest live action
and animated movies from Disney and Pixar, beginning with the 2019
theatrical slate, which includes Toy Story 4, the sequel to Frozen,
and The Lion King from Disney live-action, along with other
highly anticipated movies. Disney will also make a significant
investment in an annual slate of original movies, TV shows, short-form
content and other Disney-branded exclusives for the service.
Additionally, the service will feature a vast collection of library
content, including Disney and Pixar movies and Disney Channel, Disney
Junior and Disney XD television programming.

With this strategic shift, Disney will end its distribution agreement
with Netflix for subscription streaming of new releases, beginning with
the 2019 calendar year theatrical slate.

Plans are for the Disney and ESPN streaming services to be available for
purchase directly from Disney and ESPN, in app stores, and from
authorized MVPDs.

"We're very proud of the content distribution innovations driven by
MLBAM and BAMTech over the past 15 years," said Commissioner of Baseball
Robert D. Manfred, Jr. "Major League Baseball will continue to work with
Disney and ESPN to further grow BAMTech as it breaks new ground in
technologies for consumers to access entertainment and sports
programming."

"This is an exciting validation of our team, its achievements and the
customer-centric platform it's built," said Michael Paull, Chief
Executive Officer of BAMTech. "Yet, we've merely scratched the surface
of what can be accomplished in a future where we combine Disney and
ESPN's world-class IP and our proprietary direct-to-consumer ecosystem."

The BAMTech transaction is subject to regulatory approval, and upon
closing, Mr. Iger will serve as Chairman of the BAMTech Board. MLBAM and
NHL will continue as minority stakeholders in BAMTech, with seats on the
Board. Mr. Paull will report to Kevin A. Mayer, Senior Executive Vice
President and Chief Strategy Officer, The Walt Disney Company. John
Skipper, ESPN President and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks, will
manage the new ESPN-branded service.

The BAMTech transaction is expected to be modestly dilutive to Disney's
earnings per share for two years. Additional dilution as the Company
implements its direct-to-consumer strategy will be dependent on the
Company's licensing approach and the level of investment in original
programming.

About BAMTech:

BAMTech's technology services give consumers the freedom to access
content on their terms across any connected device, time, or location.
By driving technological innovations, BAMTech aspires to become the
leading distributor of direct-to-consumer live entertainment and the
premier provider of video streaming solutions globally. It successfully
designs, develops, and delivers direct-to-consumer streaming services
for a growing roster of sports, news, and entertainment partners
including the NHL, MLB, PGA TOUR, WWE Network, and Riot Games/League of
Legends. Through a partnership with Discovery Networks, BAMTech Europe,
headquartered in Amsterdam, will provide technology services to a broad
set of clients across the continent, including Eurosport's digital
products.

About The Walt Disney Company:

The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates,
is a leading diversified international entertainment and media
enterprise with the following business segments: media networks, parks
and resorts, studio entertainment, and consumer products and interactive
media. Disney is a Dow 30 company and had annual revenue of $55.6
billion in its Fiscal Year 2016.

View Comments and Join the Discussion!