Discovery, MLB’s BAMTech Form European Streaming-Video Venture

Discovery Communications has linked arms with Major League Baseball’s BAMTech to form BAMTech Europe, a streaming-video technology provider catering to broadcasters and OTT players across the continent.

Under the pact, Eurosport Digital will become BAMTech Europe’s first client. The joint venture will gain access to select European sports rights from worldwide sports properties, including current and future rights acquired by BAMTech and jointly by Eurosport and BAMTech. Discovery acquired full control of Eurosport last year.

The deal, announced Tuesday alongside Discovery’s Q3 earnings, comes two months after Disney set a deal to acquire a 33% stake in BAMTech for $1 billion.

Discovery and BAMTech didn’t disclose how much they’re investing in BAMTech Europe, or provide other financial details.

New York-based BAMTech currently serves 7.5 million total global paying subscribers with its U.S.-based clients’ OTT products, including the MLB.TV out-of-market baseball subscription service, HBO Now and Sony’s PlayStation Vue OTT service. With Disney’s investment, BAMTech is set to launch an ESPN-branded subscription service featuring live broadcasts of sports like rugby, cricket and college sports.

Discovery and BAMTech said BAMTech’s back-end video platform and services will be implemented in 2017 across all of Eurosport Digital’s products, which today include Eurosport.com and Eurosport Player (pictured above), a subscription-based OTT sports platform spanning 52 European countries.

“The formation of this world-class technology provider, BAMTech Europe, with our partners at BAMTech, accelerates Discovery’s long-term strategy to bring our premium content to more viewers across more screens than ever before,” said Discovery CEO David Zaslav in announcing the JV.

Bob Bowman, MLB president of business and media who oversees BAMTech, called out “Discovery’s breadth of live sports content,” including European rights to the Olympic Games through 2024, as fueling the joint venture.

“Discovery has been a global leader in media and will be a great partner in expanding BAMTech to Europe, with an eye to developing new models for delivering content in the best interests of customers,” Bowman said.

Separately, less than a month ago, Discovery announced a $100 million investment to form a new digital-media company, Group Nine Media. That will merge Discovery’s Seeker and SourceFed Studios units with three startups backed by venture-capital investor Ken Lerer: Thrillist Group Media, social-news distributor NowThis Media and animal-focused The Dodo. Thrillist co-founder Ben Lerer will be CEO of Group Nine.

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