Major-leaguers they are not (yet), but the pint-sized players on Little League World Series teams have helped drive a solid ratings increase for the annual August classic over the last four years, according to a recent Nielsen study.
In 2008, an average of 825,000 people tuned in to watch the series across both broadcast and cable networks. Not too shabby considering that over 65 percent of the 30-plus games were broadcast live during daytime hours. Unlike the pro’s, the Little League World Series has a playoff-style, double elimination format consisting of teams that actually hail from around the world. It means more telecasts over a shorter period of time, allowing viewers to catch a team from, say, Taiwan slug it out against a squad from Texas.
The 2011 series averaged 1.3 million viewers watching the Little Leaguers slug it out—a 60 percent increase from just three years prior. That ratings impact is also greater considering the series airs during the dog days of summer—a time when TV usage is historically low among the general population.
Despite the viewership bump, the cost of a commercial during Little League World Series has actually dipped, giving advertisers some bang for their buck. In 2011, the estimated average cost of a 30-second spot was $8,504 down from $9,117 during the 2010 series. Top Little League World Series advertisers who reaped the ratings gains for the 2011 series were stalwarts like Kellogg's, Best Buy and Berkshire Hathaway.
This year’s Little League World Series gets underway on August 16.
|Year||Number of Telecasts||Average Viewership P2+||Teams (Winner in Bold)|
|2011||31||1.3 million||Huntington Beach, California vs. Hamamatsu City, Japan|
|2010||32||1.2 million||Tokyo, Japan vs. Waipio-Waipahu, Hawaii|
|2009||33||1.2 million||Chula Vista, California vs. Chinese Taipei (Taiwan)|
|2008||33||825,000||Waipio-Waipahu, Hawaii vs. Matamoros, Mexico|