Disney has agreed to become the majority owner of MLB Advanced Media spinoff company Bamtech and that transaction will have an effect on many connected aspects of the entertainment industry. One such facet is the possible sale of the Miami Marlins.
Unless regulatory hurdles present themselves, the Walt Disney Company will soon have an even bigger presence in sports media.
The sale of the Miami Marlins, which as one of MLB’s 30 franchises receive revenue from Bamtech, could be affected as well.
As stated in the press release, the sale of the additional shares is still subject to regulatory approval, but that seems to be a formality at this point. The press release also states that MLBAM and the NHL will remain minority owners in the new structure, which is an important fact when considering the possible effects on a possible Marlins sale.
As a minority owner of Bamtech, MLBAM will get an unspecified cut of the $1.58 billion that Disney has agreed to pay for the additional shares. MLBAM is owned by MLB’s 30 clubs, and they split the revenue from that business venture equally. Not only will the Marlins get a piece of that action, but will get residuals as an owner of a Bamtech shareholder for years to come as well.
That’s where the possible effects for the Marlins from this transaction come from. The negotiations between current owner Jeffrey Loria and the several bidders are figuring in every element of the Marlins’ financials. That includes the poor gate returns, the local television deal that is relatively small in terms of value when compared to other MLB franchises, and the MLBAM revenue which has helped MLB flourish.
With the brand power of Disney now at the helm of Bamtech, with all of its entertainment products now connected, it feels like the sky is the limit for revenue. The press release states that Disney plans to launch its own streaming media service using Bamtech’s technology. Additionally, Disney will launch an ESPN streaming service as well. It’s uncertain right now if Disney-owned brands Lucasfilm and Marvel will become part of the new Disney streaming service, but a single streaming destination for all of that content could be a revenue giant.
While it’s true that MLBAM will be taking a smaller piece of the pie now as a minority owner of Bamtech compared to when it controlled much more of the business, the pie has the potential to be much, much bigger. That means the cut that the Marlins will get as one of the co-owners of MLBAM could also be much, much bigger. In turn, that could up the price that Loria demands from bidders because projected revenue over the next decade could spike.
Fans who shook their heads at the rumored sale price of the Marlins prior to this transaction might now be doing even more of a double-take when the numbers are figured again with the potential spike in valuation. Loria might end up owing Disney a huge thank you.