Cord cutters and cord-nevers — yes there are cord-nevers — are the discussion du jour in the world of media and entertainment. It is also a giant focus for the world of sports. If fans use WatchESPN, NHL Centre Ice, WWE Network, or even HBONow, then they have come in contact with a company called BAM Tech. BAM tech has grown out of MLB Advanced Media — or MLBAM — which will still handle all things digital-baseball related. MLB has been ahead of the curve on most everything when it comes to digital distribution, so much so that BAM Tech now operates as a stand-alone company, a decision made in August.
At the USC Sports Business Institute, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred discussed how he sees the growth of BAM tech moving forward.
We’re in the process of separating MLB.com and baseball content from what we are now calling BAM Tech. The reason we are separating the business is we think BAM Tech has an opportunity to become a service provider for over-the-top products and maybe even be a content aggregator.
Those are lofty goals, but BAM Tech is already the standard bearer in the industry. Most cord cutters have interacted with BAM Tech without even knowing it. The fact is, as more people become cord cutters, the more BAM Tech will grow.
We’ve already seen this with the NHL/BAM Tech deal. There are two different ways BAM Tech will interact with clients. One way is through being a service provider for BAM Tech technology. That is how BAM Tech works with HBO. The other is different, according to Manfred:
We bought the NHL’s digital rights. We have, for better or worse, both the upside and downside on the deal. We think its the beginning of the content aggregation business. It is a wide-ranging partnership. We will run their website. We run the network. . . . We are also providing the over-the-top out-of-market service.
This means BAM Tech will be one of the industry leaders in the space. It can specifically focus on being an industry leader without getting caught up in the business of Major League Baseball, which is very different from the business of BAM Tech.
Cynics may point out that this was a play by MLB team owners to keep MLBAM money out of collective bargaining agreement discussions. However, this isn’t baseball-generated revenue. Selling services to HBO, WWE or working with the NHL has little to do with baseball. Obviously the players would love to get a piece of the pie, but by separating BAM Tech from MLB, it makes CBA negotiations easier. It helps keep baseball going without bringing in another complication to an already tough process.
BAM Tech gained its expertise through the sheer number of games streamed on MLB.tv. Now it is using that expertise to reach a younger generation with multiple media partners. BAM Tech should continue on an upward trajectory in the coming months and years as more fans consume more digital content.
Michael Colangelo is Managing Editor of The Fields of Green and Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute.