Disney Nabs Stake in MLB’s Streaming Division: Report

Walt Disney Co. has inked a deal to acquire a one-third stake in the video-streaming technology services division of MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM),  Bloomberg reported.

The deal, which would value its stake in that business at roughly $3.5 billion, would also include a four-year option to acquire an additional 33% piece in the digital division of Major League Baseball, the report said, citing an unnamed person familiar with the situation.

MLB declined to comment on the report. Disney has been asked for comment.

Bloomberg’s report on a deal follows one in April from Recode that said Disney was eying a stake in the streaming video unit, known as BAM Tech, which already counts ESPN and HBO among its clients.

But a stronger stake in BAM Tech could help Disney strengthen its digital strategy as programmers, particularly in a premium arena that includes HBO, Showtime and Starz, continue to develop and launch direct-to-consumer OTT distribution service offerings.

A Disney-backed BAM Tech would also amp up competition with other companies that specialize in streaming infrastructure and distribution services, such as Verizon Digital Media Services (VDMS), Amazon (via its Streaming Video Partners Program), NeuLion, Comcast’s recently rechristened theVideoPlatform unit,  IBM (which recently bought Clearleap and Ustream), and iStreamPlanet (now part of Turner).