Under the deal, ESPN will produce and televise live Little League events as the exclusive global media rights holder of Little League Baseball and Little League Softball. The announcement was made today by Stephen D. Keener, Little League president and CEO, and Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN president and Disney Media Networks co-chair.
ESPN and Little League are celebrating the legacy of the Little League World Series today with a full day of related programming across ESPN platforms.
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 before as part of a previously announced expansion of the event from 16 to 20 teams.
Pitaro said the Little Leagues “inspire us with their deep sense of community, camaraderie, and competitive spirit. 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.”
Keener was equally effusive. “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. 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 it one of the longest-standing league–media rights holder relationships in 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.
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.