Disney reportedly buys stake in $3.5B MLB Advanced Media streaming unit

The Walt Disney Co. has purchased a one-third stake in premiere live-streaming enabler Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM).

The deal, reported by Bloomberg based on unnamed sources, values the streaming video technology company at $3.5 billion. According to the report, Disney also has the option of buying another 33 percent stake in the company.

Among MLBAM's numerous premiere clients is ESPN, for which it handles backend technology services for TV Everywhere product WatchESPN. The deal is widely seen as a harbinger of live streaming efforts to come for the leading sports cable network. 

MLB Advanced Media spokesman Matthew Gould had no comment when reached by FierceCable

"You see the biggest sports media company moving to greater digital delivery," said Chris Russo, a former National Football League executive who now heads sports investment banking at Houlihan Lokey Inc. in New York, to Bloomberg. "It really shows they're trying to get ahead of the digital phenomenon rather than being left behind it."

"MLBAM has some great assets that could help ESPN build a robust over-the-top offering," added Bernard Gershon, a media consultant based in New York.

The other two-thirds of MLBAM collectively belongs to the 30 Major League Baseball franchises. Its clients include World Wrestling Entertainment, the National Hockey League and HBO. 

For more:
- read this Bloomberg story

Related articles:
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On OTT's iron throne, customers and content rule, MLBAM and others say
MLB Advanced Products' Inzerillo on the challenges of streaming video: 'It's like trying to live on Mercury'
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