Little League Signs 8-Year Television Contract Extension with ESPN
Contract will allow Little League International to provide even
more direct benefits to local leagues
to download the news conference with Little League International
President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen D. Keener.
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Jan. 4, 2007) – Little League International has
signed an eight-year television contract extension with ESPN that
will expand national coverage to include all eight of its baseball
and softball world series tournaments, it was announced today by
Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little
League Baseball and Softball, and John Skipper, executive vice
president, content, ESPN, Inc.
A crew of more than 25 was at the Little League Southern
Region Headquarters recently, filming four public service
announcements (PSAs) that will begin airing this winter as
part of the new agreement with ESPN. In this photo, the crew
is preparing for one of the scenes, filmed at Arnold S.
White, Sr. Stadium.
At least 49 games in all eight divisions of Little League Baseball
and Softball will be televised nationally each year starting in
August 2007. The U.S. and World Championship games in the Little
League Baseball World Series will again be televised on ABC, with
other games appearing on ESPN’s expanding family of networks.
Previously, the greatest number of Little League games to be
televised nationally was 43, in 2006.
“Having Little League games on national television has helped us
communicate the benefits of our program to millions of viewers
annually since 1963,” Mr. Keener said. “We’re grateful that our
partners at ESPN share that vision, and we are pleased to announce
that the coverage has now expanded to all divisions of Little League
play. We also are pleased to announce that this new contract means
that Little League International will be able to provide more than
$1 million in direct financial benefits to local Little League
The multi-media agreement includes coverage across 15 ESPN platforms
– ESPN on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD, ESPN Classic,
Spanish-language ESPN Deportes, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN International,
ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN360 (the company’s growing interactive and
customizable broadband service), Mobile ESPN Publishing (ESPN’s
wireless content licensing business) and other ESPN-branded services
(i.e. iPod, video-on-demand, etc.).
“Little League Baseball captures the heart of sport – a balance of
competitiveness, sportsmanship, and passion for the game,” Mr.
Skipper said. “This new deal will allow fans to enjoy – any way they
choose – these moments that touch so many.”
In 2007, for the first time, all 32 games of the Aug. 17-26 Little
League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa., will be televised
on ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2.
In addition, ESPN and ESPN2 will continue to carry all eight of the
U.S. Regional Championship finals in the Little League Baseball
division. The U.S. regional finals have been televised by ESPN and
ESPN2 every year since 1997.
In this photo, two Little League Softball players prepare
for their scene. The players in each of the PSAs are wearing
uniforms from the Official Little League Uniform Program.
Local Little Leagues can purchase uniforms like these, with
any lettering desired, at
The two semifinal games and the World Championship game of the
Little League Softball World Series (11-12-year-olds), scheduled for
Aug. 9-15 in Portland, Ore., will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.
The championship games of the following tournaments also will be
televised on ESPN or ESPN2: Junior League Baseball
(13-14-year-olds), at Taylor, Mich., Aug. 12-18; Senior League
Baseball (14-16-year-olds), at Bangor, Maine, Aug. 12-18; Big League
Baseball (16-18-year-olds), at Easley, S.C., July 28-Aug. 4; Junior
League Softball (13-14-year-old girls), at Kirkland, Wash., Aug.
12-18; Senior League Softball (14-16-year-old girls), at Lower
Sussex, Del., Aug. 5-11; and Big League Softball (16-18-year-old
girls), at Kalamazoo, Mich., Aug. 13-18.
The contract extension calls for more than 390 Little League
Baseball and Softball tournament games to be televised nationally
through 2014, which will mark the 75th anniversary of Little
League’s first season, in 1939.
New Contract Provides Direct Benefits to Local Little Leagues
“Our new partnership with ESPN will bring a significant increase in
value,” Mr. Keener said. “As a result of that, we have taken
definitive steps to increase the financial benefits provided to our
Free Background Checks – In partnership with ChoicePoint,
Little League International will provide every local Little League
in the U.S. with 80 free criminal background checks of volunteers in
each league. Additional checks will be $1 each.
During the last several years, ChoicePoint has provided the checks
to local Little Leagues at a cost of $1.50 per person. In 2006,
nearly 100,000 background checks were conducted on Little League
volunteers through ChoicePoint.
Normally, the cost for these background checks to non-Little League
organizations may be as high as $19.95 per person thorough
ChoicePoint. This arrangement with ChoicePoint represents a savings
to local leagues of more than $1 million, but also provides easy
access to a more efficient and thorough process for local leagues to
Mandatory background checks for all managers, coaches and certain
other volunteers began in Little League in 2003. At a minimum, local
leagues are required to conduct a check of the National Sex Offender
Database on these volunteers. However, a more extensive criminal
background check, such as that offered through ChoicePoint, is
Charter Fees Reduced – For the first time in Little League’s
68-year history, the fees paid by the local volunteer organizations
to become “chartered” Little Leagues will decrease for every
division of play. In 2006, charter fees were $18 per team.
In 2007, fees have been lowered to $16 per team, representing a
savings of more than $300,000 per year for local leagues.
Promotional Messages – While having 49 games on national
television per year, adding up to more than 100 hours of
programming, is one of the best ways for Little League International
to communicate its message to the public, Little League also will
receive time for public service announcements (PSAs) during other
times of the year on the ESPN family of networks.
Some of the “actors” from the PSAs pose for a photo
at home plate. Each of the PSAs is designed to help boost
interest in signing up for all the divisions of Little
League Baseball and Softball.
Some of the PSAs will be aired during the winter and spring, and
are aimed at promoting registration at the local Little League
Coaching Initiative – Still being formulated, it is Little
League International’s intent to offer an on-line coaches resource
center and training program at no charge to all Little League
managers and coaches worldwide. Based on the fees charged to
individual coaches or leagues in other youth baseball and softball
programs, this initiative represents a savings of more than $250,000
for local Little Leagues and volunteers.
Services Already Provided by Little League
“We’re grateful to ESPN for making it possible to offer these
benefits, particularly the free background checks and the reduction
in charter fees,” Mr. Keener said. “We’ve always wanted to do that
for our local programs, but until now have not been able to do so.”
Included among the services currently provided to chartered local
Little Leagues by Little League International:
||• Free “Little League Magazine, Presented by Major
League Baseball” sent to the homes of more than 1.5 million
Little Leaguers each year
||• Travel reimbursement of $1 per mile for one round trip
to each tournament site beyond the district level in the
Little League International Tournament. (Leagues pay a
one-time fee of $75 per team to enter the International
Tournament. There are no other fees charged at subsequent
||• Free travel, room and board to World Series teams at
||• Low-cost insurance fees, ranging from $18 to $48, per
team, per year. Liability insurance, when purchased through
Little League, annually costs from $101 per league for some
leagues to $30.30 per team, per year, for leagues with more
than 14 teams. Insurance fees are maintained at such a low
rate in part because of ASAP (A Safety Awareness Program).
||• Each league receives two free Little League rule books
for each team chartered. Little League also supplies free
materials for establishing constitution, by-laws,
||• Free, full-time rules interpretation service by
telephone and e-mail, with regional staff on duty at offices
in five U.S. states and four other countries.
||• Training clinics and seminars at various locations
around the U.S. and around the world each year. These
clinics are for league officers, managers/coaches, umpires,
and other volunteers.