The Walt Disney Company today announced it is buying a majority stake in BAMTech and planning to launch both Disney and ESPN streaming services.
Disney previously held a 33% stake in BAMTech and now the company will pay another $1.58 billion to buy another 42% in the company.
“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 Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger in a statement. “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 previously announced ESPN-branded multisport service is now getting more details about the programming it will offer. Disney said the service will feature 10,000 live regional, national and international games and events per year from leagues including Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, Grand Slam tennis and college sports.
Disney plans to offer the service through an updated version of the current ESPN app that also allows access to live sports via pay TV account authentication.
The new Disney-branded service will serve as the exclusive U.S. SVOD home for live action and animated movies from Disney and Pixar, beginning with the 2019 theatrical slate. In accordance with that strategy shift, Disney said it would discontinue its distribution agreement with Netflix before the 2019 calendar year.
Disney is also planning original movies, TV shows, short-form content and other Disney-branded exclusives for the service. The service will house library content, including Disney and Pixar movies and Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD television programming.