Bob Bowman, the president of business and media at Major League Baseball (MLB), has announced that he will step down from his position when his current contract expires at the end of the year.
The influential Bowman, 62, has been the architect of MLB’s technological transformation, having spent the past 17 years as president and chief executive of MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), the league’s hugely successful digital arm.
Under Bowman, its only ever chief executive since its formation in 2000, MLBAM has established itself as a pioneering force in digital sport, helping to make the league and its team owners billions of dollars whilst revolutionising the way fans consume baseball in the process.
Perhaps the standout success of Bowman’s tenure - besides the launch of MLB's At Bat and Statcast digital offerings and MLB.TV, which provides out-of-market game streams - has been the emergence of BAMTech, the video streaming company spun off from MLBAM in 2015, as an industry leader in media distribution and consumption.
Having grown to become a go-to live streaming delivery solution for a host of sports leagues, broadcasters and entertainment properties, BAMTech was recently acquired by The Walt Disney Company in a deal that valued the offshoot firm at US$3.76 billion.
The growth of MLBAM and BAMTech, equity shares in which are split equally among MLB’s 30 teams, have been credited with helping to boost the value of baseball's major league franchises, reduce income disparity between large and small-market teams, and ensure more than two decades of labour peace.
"With the recent completion of the sale of a majority stake in BAMTech to The Walt Disney Company, and recognising the enormous talent pool that exists at MLB and MLB.com, it is an ideal time for new leadership,” Bowman said in a statement.
“Of all that we have accomplished, I am most proud of the people I have worked with, many of whom have been with me each step of the way over the past 17 years.”
As well as spearheading baseball’s digital growth, Bowman has overseen MLB Network, the league’s cable TV offering, since December 2014, when he became MLB’s president of business and media.
BAMTech, which expanded into Europe a year ago, is now led by former Amazon Video executive Michael Paull, who replaced Bowman as chief executive in February - although Bowman remained on the BAMTech board.
Commenting on Monday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred noted how Bowman’s “vision made our game even more accessible and enjoyable to millions of fans”, adding: “Like the owners of our 30 clubs, I am grateful for the groundbreaking work that he and his team have performed for our sport.”