ESPN, Little League Extends Media Rights Deal Through 2030
ESPN and Little League International announced an eight-year, multi-platform media rights extension – effective 2023 through 2030 – in which ESPN will produce and televise more live Little League events than ever as the exclusive global media rights holder of Little League Baseball and Little League Softball. The announcement was made by Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and Chief Executive Officer, and Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN President and Disney Media Networks Co-Chair.
“Little League Baseball and Softball inspire us with their deep sense of community, camaraderie, and competitive spirit,” says Pitaro. “Multiple generations of families have enjoyed playing and watching games on ESPN and ABC, and we’re excited to continue and expand the rewarding relationship we have with Steve Keener and all of our friends at Little League Baseball and Softball.”
As part of the rights extension, ESPN platforms will exclusively carry more than 300 Little League live events annually, including games from every baseball and softball World Series tournament. ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+, Longhorn Network, and ESPN international platforms will combine to carry the events. Additionally, ESPN and ABC will continue to produce and televise the entire Little League Baseball World Series, with more games from Williamsport, PA than ever before as part of the previously announced expansion of the event from 16 to 20 teams.
“There is perhaps no broadcast relationship in all of sports as synonymous as Little League and ESPN and ABC,” says Keener. “With this extension, ESPN will be showcasing the amazing plays, inspirational stories, and exemplary sportsmanship of our Little League tournaments spanning eight decades. This relationship has allowed our organization to provide direct financial support to our 6,500 community-based programs, and we’re grateful that we’ll be able to continue in these vital efforts. We are looking forward to a bright future with Jimmy Pitaro and our partners at ESPN.”
ESPN first began televising Little League games in 1983 and has done so each year since 1987. ABC began broadcasting the Little League World Series in 1963, which makes this one of the longest-standing league – media rights holder relationships in all of sports, only behind The Masters on CBS.
Select elements of the rights extension, including additional live game telecasts, will begin to be implemented during the final two years – 2021 and 2022 – of the current ESPN and Little League agreement.
Summary of exclusive events on ESPN platforms:
- Little League Baseball World Series
- Little League Softball World Series
- Little League Baseball U.S. Regionals
- Little League Softball U.S. Regionals
- Annual Little League Baseball World Series Challenger Game
- Intermediate Baseball World Series
- Junior League Baseball World Series
- Junior League Softball World Series
- Senior League Baseball World Series
- Senior League Softball World Series
- Options for International Regional Series
In 2019, ESPN produced the first Little League World Series alternative viewing experience called “Kidscast” featuring an all-kids commentator team. As part of the rights extension, ESPN will have rights to continue to explore – and offer – fan-friendly alternate presentations to air in conjunction with the main game telecasts.
In addition to the Little League events, ESPN will also continue to exclusively televise the annual MLB Little League Classic on Sunday Night Baseball from Williamsport, PA.