Get ready, ESPN will be expanding its coverage of the Little League World Series, broadcasting over 150 games on the streaming platform ESPN+. That’s 93 more games than were aired on ESPN and ABC combined last year. That’s a lot more dingers. That’s a lot more strikeouts. That’s many more unforced errors. For parents with baseball-crazy kids, it’s quite a few more chances to take in a game.
For ESPN, the decision is all about pushing ESPN+, which is a new streaming platform and Disney Corp’s first step into direct-to-consumer sports subscription services. Put more simply, this is how you’ll eventually end up watching Major League Baseball after you cut the cord.
“We are excited to be able to offer a substantially increased number of games across Little League International’s many baseball and softball divisions with the launch of ESPN+,” Burke Magnus, ESPN’s executive vice president of programming and scheduling, said in a press ralease. “These are marquee events every summer and now we will be able to bring even more of these exciting tournament games to the viewers.”
According to Stephen D. Keener, Little League president and CEO, ESPN+ is just one way that the organization is looking to “promote the benefits of participation [in the series] for our young female athletes around the world.” For years, boys have had the opportunity to see themselves on televisions playing in the series. Girls, who have their own series, have not even though more than 100,000 play in youth baseball leagues every year.
Putting the series on an auxiliary platform away from cable broadcasting has its benefits as well. Streaming through ESPN+ will allow the network to play early-round and regional tournament games that typically don’t get enough viewership to warrant ESPN shelling out millions of dollars to play them on television, especially when the Little League World Series still has to fight for viewers with the big leagues. The service costs $4.99 a month.