It has been mentioned how many times by now, how Disney is taking some very aggressive steps towards developing and launching its own exclusive digital streaming services in the coming years. This program dovetails neatly into the still-ongoing discussion between the House of Mouse and 21st Century Fox to acquire the latter’s entertainment media assets.
Such a coup would of course provide a font of content for the streaming platforms when they do come online: a sports-branded service centered on ESPN called ESPN Plus, and the yet-unnamed Walt Disney streaming media provider. Speaking of which, you’d be surprised by which Disney subsidiary is working on their streaming tech.
Having one of its own subsidiaries to build up their streaming service platform is a no-brainer for Disney. But here’s the kicker: would you believe that – technically speaking – the groundwork for developing the streaming tech is being done by Major League Baseball?
Or rather, the subsidiary in question, BAMTech, was originally the streaming division of MLB’s tech arm that got spun out as an independent company in 2015 They were snapped up by Disney the following year, with the media empire getting a 75% controlling stake with BAMTech as of last August.
That’s not much of a surprise for those in the know. BAMTech has grown and expanded so much that it had branched out from powering MLB.TV and the league’s mobile app, but also streaming support for the PGA Tour, NHL, even HBO Now and the WWE. They have even partnered with Discovery Communications to launch a European branch of BAMTech to handle streaming for the Olympics starting with the 2018 Winter Games. Part of the Fox assets being floated for acquisition by Disney includes shares in European TV service Sky. Everything seems to fit with a larger Disney media strategy.
Disney’s ESPN Plus streaming platform is expected to go online next year, with the Disney service starting in 2019. With all the heavy-hitting components being gathered together by The House of Mouse, they could ideally stand to compete against established streaming brands like Hulu, Amazon Video (which has exclusive streaming rights for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films), and Netflix which co-produces miniseries with Marvel Studios. The launch of the Disney streaming service could herald a change in the on-demand media landscape. Again, it’s all “wait and see” for now.