If you need any more proof of ballooning sports media rights, consider this news. In renewing its contract with the Little League World Series, ESPN will now pay double what they did in their last contract, up to $7.5 million dollars per year. While that's relative pennies for ESPN considering they pay $20 million dollars to the AAC and just sublicensed many of those rights, it's symbolic of a world where the dollar amounts are going up for everyone in sports. 12 and 13 year olds playing baseball included. Here's the report from John Ourand of SBJ:
"ESPN finalized a deal that ensures it will carry the Little League World Series through 2022.
As part of the deal with Little League International, which was first reported by SportsBusiness Journal in June, ESPN will pay around $60 million over the eight-year extension, around $7.5 million per year, sources said.
That figure doubles the $30.5 million, eight-year deal that ESPN signed in 2007.
ESPN executives have long valued Little League programming, and the new deal continues a 50-year relationship. ESPN has carried Little League World Series games every year since 1987, and it occupies large programming blocks in August — a time when there are few live events on air. ESPN’s ABC broadcast network started carrying Little League World Series games — mainly the championship game — in 1963."
I must make a confession. I don't get the appeal of the Little League World Series as a television product. I really don't get why the Little League World Series takes over ESPN airwaves during two weeks in August like it's the World Cup. The amount of LLWS coverage on ESPN is just insane. Over the last two weeks it seems like every time I've turned on ESPN recently there has been Little League baseball. And I have no interest in watching Little League Baseball in the same way I have no interest in watching Pop Warner football or a herd of small children all following a soccer ball around a field with no concept of the offside rule.
But for reasons I will clearly never understand, the Little League World Series championship game outrated Major League Baseball yesterday. With all this big network money involved in the Little League World Series, it's only a matter of time until the outcry begins to pay the players.