Amazon Video Czar Tapped as New CEO of BAMTech

  • Streaming company is owned by Major League Baseball and Disney
  • Michael Paull will lead ESPN into subscription streaming

Michael Paull, a digital media executive from Amazon, has been hired to lead BAMTech, the $3 billion video-streaming company on which Walt Disney Co. has bet its digital future.

The announcement was made by Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which sold one-third of BAMTech to Disney in August. The company’s technology currently powers digital video for WWE Network, the PGA Tour and HBO Now, among others. It is also expanding into Europe in a partnership with Discovery Communications.

Michael Paull

Photographer: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Amazon Studios

At BAMTech, Paull will help Disney’s ESPN launch a subscription streaming service, a product designed to help ease the company’s reliance on cable subscriptions. With higher costs and fewer subscribers, ESPN’s profit has been falling, dragging down results in the cable TV division overall -- by far Disney’s largest unit. With the highest subscriber rates in pay TV, ESPN is especially vulnerable to cord-cutting.

For the last three years, Paull has been vice President of digital video for Amazon Inc. He oversaw the introduction of Prime Video, the company’s answer to Netflix, and significantly increased the production of original series and films.

"Michael will deliver on the incredible potential and promise this venture has for building powerful viewing experiences for its clients and their customers," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

Baseball still owns a majority of BAMTech. Disney in three years will have the option to take a controlling stake.

Paull takes over from founding executive, Bob Bowman, MLB’s president of business and media. Bowman will also serve on the seven-member BAMTech board of directors, along with Manfred, ESPN President John Skipper, Disney executive Kevin Mayer and Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League, which is also an investor in the company. The firm Egon Zehnder was used in the CEO search.

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