According to a footnote in the company’s annual report, which it filed Tuesday, Disney paid Major League Baseball $900 million for its 15 percent stake in the company, now known as “Disney Streaming,” earlier in November.
Disney and the sports league had the right to force a buyout of the stake based on its fair market value beginning earlier this year. Disney had bought the National Hockey League’s 10 percent stake in BAMTech for $350 million last year.
BAMTech technology powers Disney+, Hulu and Disney’s other offerings, and has become a critical part of the company’s streaming infrastructure. The announcement of the BAMTech acquisition on the company’s August 2017 earnings call — coupled with the announcement of plans for ESPN and Disney-branded streaming services — was “the beginning of the reinvention of The Walt Disney Company,” then-CEO Bob Iger wrote in his memoir The Ride of a Lifetime.
BAMTech can trace its origins to 2000, when the league sought to create a digital hub for the league, and to help develop online ticket sales. The result was MLB Advanced Media, which in the ensuring years developed in-house streaming video technology to bring baseball highlights and full games to the internet. MLB Advanced Media streamed its first baseball game during the 2002 season, a full three years before YouTube was founded.
BAMTech would go on to power a variety of streaming services, including offerings from the NHL (a minority shareholder) and HBO.
The league spun off its streaming video division as BAMTech in 2015, with Disney acquiring a minority stake a year later. Disney would go on to acquire its majority stake in 2017, buying out its remaining partners at the NHL and MLB in 2021 and 2022, respectively.