As we reflect on what would have been the 2020 Little League® World Series, Little League International looks forward to the next chapter of its story with the announcement of an extended partnership with ESPN, featuring an eight-year multi-platform rights extension that will be effective from 2023 through 2030. The first year of this new agreement will mark the 60th anniversary of ESPN and ABC’s longstanding broadcast of the Little League World Series, which has been airing games annually since 1963.
“There is perhaps no broadcast relationship in all of sports as synonymous as Little League and ESPN and ABC. With this extension, ESPN will be showcasing the amazing plays, inspirational stories, and exemplary sportsmanship of our Little League tournaments spanning eight decades, said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “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.”
Little League International’s broadcast relationship with ESPN will continue to provide a bright spotlight on the great achievements of the incredible players and dedicated volunteers from around the world, showcasing their sportsmanship, stories, and memorable on-field moments. With this agreement, every game from all seven Little League World Series baseball and softball tournaments, as well as the Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® U.S. regional tournaments, will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks, guaranteeing more than 300 Little League games will be available for families and fans each year through 2030. This includes the upcoming expansion of the Little League Baseball World Series to 20 teams and the Little League Softball World Series to 12 teams, providing the opportunity for more kids to be featured on the world’s biggest stage and enjoy the memorable experience at each of those events.
“Little League Baseball and Softball inspire us with their deep sense of community, camaraderie, and competitive spirit,” said Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN President, Disney Media Networks Co-Chair. “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.”
Over the years, the financial support from Little League International’s longstanding relationships with ESPN and official sponsors have allowed Little League International to lower affiliation fees for its community programs from $18 to $10 per team, provide 125 free criminal background checks for volunteers, enhance free training and educational materials, and support direct financial assistance through the Little League Grow the Game Grant and Disaster Relief program. As this extension does not go into effect until 2023, the financial terms will not be disclosed at this time.
As Little League International and its millions of local volunteers and families continue to navigate the Coronavirus pandemic, knowing this extension will go through 2030 will help ensure that the organization can continue to provide its unmatched support to its local leagues over the course of the next decade and showcase the best youth sports experience in the world each summer.