MLB-Disney’s BAMTech Inks ‘League of Legends’ $300 Million eSports Streaming Pact

Courtesy of Riot Games

BAMTech, Major League Baseball’s streaming-video unit backed by Disney, has entered into a multiyear deal with Riot Games to deliver “League of LegendseSports content around the world.

Under the deal, announced Friday, Riot Games — acquired by Chinese internet giant Tencent last year — will work with BAMTech to “grow revenue in our sport through various means, including sponsorship and advertising,” the video-game publisher said. Starting in 2017, BAMTech and Riot Games plan to launch new eSports properties for “League of Legends,” a hugely popular multiplayer battle-arena title with more than 100 million players globally.

BAMTech will pay Riot Games at least $300 million through 2023 for exclusive rights to distribute and develop “League of Legends” eSports tournaments, as well as sell ads and sponsorships, according to a source, confirming a report in the Wall Street Journal.


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The “League of Legends” deal comes after Disney agreed to pay $1 billion for a 33% stake in BAMTech. With the investment, ESPN is planning to launch a new “multi-sport” direct-to-consumer subscription service. Content in the forthcoming ESPN-branded OTT service, originally slated to debut by the end of 2016, will include college sports, including football and basketball, as well as tennis, rugby and cricket.

ESports has become a major pastime, especially popular among younger audiences. According to Riot Games, its 15-day “League of Legends” 2016 championship tour in North America this fall attracted 43 million unique viewers who watched a total of 370 million hours of live video. BAMTech, under the “LOL” agreement, will handle future distribution of live eSports broadcasts, including distribution on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.

For BAMTech, the Riot Games pact is the third exclusive, long-term streaming-rights acquisition in just over a year.

The National Hockey League last summer signed a six-year deal with MLB Advanced Media under which MBLAM assumed the management of NHL’s TV broadcasting and internet-streaming operations; under that agreement, NHL owns a minority stake in BAMTech. In addition, the PGA Tour and MLBAM announced a multiyear partnership to develop, produce, and distribute PGA Tour Live, a digital OTT subscription service featuring coverage of more than 30 events per season.

New York-based BAMTech, which now has been separated from the broader MLB Advanced Media business headed by Bob Bowman, powers, the league’s out-of-market subscription service. It also serves clients including Time Warner’s HBO Now, WWE Network, Sony’s PlayStation Vue internet TV service and Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze.

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  1. i3rucei3ruce says:

    League of Legends leads the gaming/e-sports world as it slowly replaces sports. Next up, religion.

    • Jim Smith says:

      Esports will never replace sports because video games is not a sport. Look up the definition of sports and you’ll know. Anyone who thinks playing video games competitively is a sport is really stupid and lives in a bubble. Esports has done nothing for the betterment of humanity or the society. At least in sports the athletes are inspiration to make us motivated to be as a higher calibre as they are in physical prowess. Esports makes lazy people think they are good. The people who play video games for a living are like prostitutes in the real world. Lol about religion, nothing can replace religion, as long as there are humans they will be some form of religion. Use your brain.

      • Judith M says:

        Is chess a sport? Go? Does something need to include over-muscled people beating on and chasing each other to be a sport? And yes, certainly traditional sports are full of great role models, like Pete Rose, Magic Johnson, Tiger woods – all people with flawless characters. You have no idea what inspires the younger generation – have you met anyone under 25? E-sports combine small muscle agility that is as well developed and large muscle in physical sports, as well as strategy and a level of intellectual acuity that us very high level. When you can play LOL as well as the average jock can toss around a football, you might have a right to comment on E-sports. Until then, you play your games and we’ll play ours.

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