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Disney to bolster cord-cutting options with MLB deal

Engadget Engadget 1/07/2016 Steve Dent

Cable subscribers have been dropping ESPN like a hot rock, often switching to à la carte streaming services like NFL Sunday Ticket and MLB's At Bat. Parent Disney is trying get on the winning side, so it acquired a third of Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), according to Bloomberg. That company runs MLB's At Bat and MLB.TV online service, and also handles streaming for the PGA Tour, NHL and WWE Network. The company's tech is also behind HBO Now, The Blaze and other services. The deal reportedly values MLBAM at $3.5 billion.

Disney also signed up for the right to acquire another third of MLBAM. The service already provides content to WatchESPN, which allows viewers to watch games on mobile devices when away from home. However, WatchESPN isn't actually a cord-cutting option, as it still requires an ESPN cable subscription. By purchasing MLB's streaming company, however, Disney has entered the "over-the-top" business, cutting out cable operator's like Comcast.

It also gives Disney a piece of MLBAM's streaming tech, which is considered some of the best in the business. The company provides the infrastructure for March Madness on Demand, HBO Now and The Blaze TV, and runs all the NHL Network's digital properties.

MLBAM is owned by the 30 major league baseball teams, and operates each team's website via The company is now valued at nearly $120 million per team, showing that the $2 billion price that Magic Johnson and others paid for the LA Dodgers may not be that exorbitant.


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