The Little League World Series and related events will continue to air on ESPN through 2030 as part of an eight-year rights extension announced Aug. 23.
Under the deal, ESPN becomes the exclusive global rights holder for Little League baseball and softball on domestic, international and streaming platforms; the sports media giant will broadcast more than 300 games yearly.
ESPN began televising Little League games in 1983 and has done so yearly since 1987. ABC, also owned by parent company Disney, began covering Little League in 1963, giving it the second-longest running sports media rights partnership behind only the Masters on CBS, according to ESPN.
“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,” ESPN President and Disney Media Networks co-chair Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement.
The 2020 LLWS was originally slated to begin Aug. 22, but was canceled in April amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event had been played every year since it began in 1947. The LLWS was going to expand from 16 to 20 teams in 2021 for the tournament’s 75th anniversary, but will now do so in 2022. The Little League Softball World Series will expand to 12 teams.
The 2020 MLB Little League Classic – the annual game at the LLWS site in South Williamsport, Pa. between two MLB teams – between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles was also canceled. The Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Indians will play in the 2021 edition, ESPN also announced Aug. 23.
Because of its relationship with ESPN and official sponsors, Little League International has been able to lower affiliation fees for its community programs from $18 to $10 per team, provide 125 free criminal background checks to each league for volunteers, enhance free training and educational materials, and support direct financial assistance, the organization said.