How MLB created the Disney+ streaming service

In the 2000s, Major League Baseball (MLB) created one of the world’s leading streaming services (BAMTech) and -- after being acquired by Disney -- it is now the tech that powers Disney+.


July 16, 2021

Major League Baseball (MLB) held its annual All-Star Game on Tuesday.

That isn’t the only extravaganza the league can take credit for this month.

Last weekend, Disney’s film “Black Widow” set a record COVID-era box office take of $80m. It also added $60m to the steaming service Disney+…

… which is actually a descendent of the MLB

How? The story starts in 2000. It’s the height of the dot-com bubble and MLB commissioner Bud Selig wants to take part, per The Verge.

He asks each of the 30 MLB teams to chip in $4m — $120m total — to launch a venture called Major League Baseball Advanced Media (BAM).

BAM’s initial task is to create a website for each team but it soon takes up new projects, including launching a video streaming service.

The 1st streaming MLB game…

… is between the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers on August 26, 2002.

Years before both YouTube (2005) and Netflix (2007), BAM is mastering:

  • Delivering online video at scale
  • Multi-device sync (so games can be watched on laptop, PCs, mobile)
  • Data centers and broadband infrastructure

BAM commercializes the industry-leading tech

In the mid-2010s, it creates streaming products for WWE, PGA, NHL, and HBO.

Due to its success, MLB decides to spin the business out, creating BAMTech. By 2017, Disney — which is transitioning to streaming — acquires a 75% stake for $2.6B (over 2 transactions).

Shortly after, Disney announces it will launch a streaming product for its outrageously good IP catalog (i.e., Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Classic Films).

Disney+ goes live in November 2019

The global pandemic hits a few months later and digital content explodes as people are stuck at home.

By March 2021 — only 16 months after launch — Disney+ hits 100m+ subscribers. The technology underpinning all of the streaming content is none other than BAMTech (now called Disney Streaming Services).

So yeah, that’s how MLB helped create Disney+. Not a bad few days.

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