This year’s Little League World Series on ESPN had many intriguing storylines, mainly centering around Taney Dragons star pitcher Mo’Ne Davis and the Jackie Robinson West team from Chicago that won the United States championship. But this year’s event wasn’t just a two story affair – the World Series as a whole was the most-watched and highest-rated Little League World Series ever on ESPN’s family of networks.
The entire series averaged 1.724 million viewers, an incredible 71% jump from last year. The 1.1 rating averaged by the games was up 57% from a year ago. The entire championship weekend averaged 4.163 million viewers and a 2.7 rating, increases of 36% and 35% from last year and ESPN’s best marks since 2002.
Breaking down the individual games, the World Championship game between South Korea and Chicago averaged 5.343 million viewers, a 35% jump from last year and the best mark since 2003. The Las Vegas-Chicago US championship game averaged 5.191 million viewers, up an insane 65% from 2013 and the best mark since 2002. The South Korea-Japan international championship game drew 2.094 million viewers and a 1.4 rating, the most-viewed and highest-rated international championship game ever, and up 21% in each category from last year.
As for the Mo’ne Davis effect, the game between her Philadelphia team and Las Vegas drew 4.988 million viewers, the largest audience ever for a Little League World Series game on ESPN. The game also drew 107,000 live streams on WatchESPN, the highest-ever total for a Little League World Series game. Speaking of WatchESPN, the average game this year was up 172% in live viewers, and was up 209% in live minutes viewed from 2013.
I’m not a huge fan of the Little League World Series, but I have to admit it was a resounding success for ESPN. They’re paying a fraction for the rights for this event than they are for a season of Major League Baseball games, and no MLB game has touched the highs sets by this year’s event. It’s incredible, and one of the best bargains in sports television rights.