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NHL Sells Stake in Disney Streaming Services For $350 Million

Jeff Kotuby

Disney has already paid the NHL quite a bit this year in their new TV rights deal — and it’s giving them even more money to buy them out of their streaming platform.

According to a note in their Q3 2021 financials, Disney is paying $350 million for the National Hockey League’s 10 percent stake in Disney Streaming Services. The NHL acquired a stake when Disney Streaming Services, then BAMTech, took over NHL.TV, the league’s out-of-market package, and team websites in 2015.

Disney Streaming Services manages the technology platforms that power its streaming services like Disney+ and ESPN+. The NHL had a buyout option that they enacted on August 3 and the deal will likely close by the end of 2021.

Disney Streaming Services, originally known as BAMTech, was created in 2015 alongside the MLB as an offshoot of MLB Advanced Media, with Disney acquiring a majority stake in the company in 2017. MLB has the right to sell its remaining interest in the company, and Disney has the right to buy it, in 2022. According to Disney, the MLB’s BAMTech stake is valued at $752 million.

Disney now has relationships with both companies after a long time away from the NHL. In March, ESPN and the NHL reached a new seven-year broadcast rights deal that will see the NHL back on ESPN airwaves. A few months later, ESPN and the MLB renewed their existing rights deal, albeit on a smaller scale than before.

The NHL factors heavily into ESPN's push to add more exclusive sports content to ESPN+. When discussing the new deal with the NHL, one ESPN exec said it was a perfect opportunity to bolster the brand’s streaming service. “We were very interested in getting that exclusively for ESPN+, and that was one of the absolute tentpoles and priorities from our perspective as that conversation matured,” Burke Magnus, president of programming and original content for ESPN, told Adweek. “That’s a perfect example of something that checks all the boxes, both for us in terms of our priorities of growing a new business, but also for a rights holder who wants big reach and to find fans and grow their audience.”

Whatever ESPN’s doing seems to be working, as ESPN+ posted another strong quarter and now sits at 14.9 million subscribers.

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