On Tuesday, Major League Baseball’s tech arm, MLBAM (often nicknamed simply “BAM”) announced it has found a new CEO for BAM Tech, the video streaming company it spun off from MLBAM in August. BAM Tech’s new CEO is Michael Paull, former VP of digital video at Amazon.
Most consumers may not know BAM Tech as a brand name, but this hire is extremely important to Major League Baseball, Disney, and ESPN.
By way of brief background: MLB created MLBAM in 2000 as an in-house video arm for the league, to handle the enormous task of live-streaming 2,430 baseball games per year with no hiccups. BAM soon became the go-to choice as a white-label streaming provider for many non-baseball sports entities, including WWE, PGA Tour, ESPN and NCAA March Madness.
This past August, Disney invested $1 billion in BAMTech for a 33% ownership stake. The rest is owned by MLB’s 30 clubs (58%) and the NHL (9%), thanks to a deal in which the NHL sold its digital rights to MLB.
BAM Tech is of major significance to the future of baseball, and to ESPN, which is owned by Disney. Disney’s investment in BAM Tech put pro baseball, Disney, and ESPN into business together. And MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told Yahoo Finance earlier this month, “The more exciting piece, and it’s why Disney invested, is that we believe that there is an opportunity to develop products that can be delivered direct-to-consumer, over the top, that can recapture people who have left the cable model or attract people that were never in the cable model.”
Disney, meanwhile, has plans to create “a new ESPN-branded multi-sport subscription streaming service” via MLBAM in the near future.
Last December, Bloomberg reported that Bob Bowman, the architect and still president of BAM, who was also de facto CEO of BAM Tech, would step down from running BAM Tech. MLB and Disney, together, hired high-profile executive search firm Egon Zehnder to scout candidates for the CEO role.
Now they’ve landed on Paull, whose background makes him the perfect fit. Before his nine years at Amazon, he worked at Sony Pictures and Fox Entertainment Group. Now Amazon’s loss is BAM Tech’s gain. Paull starts in March.
Daniel Roberts is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering sports business and technology. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.