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Major League Baseball and Anheuser-Busch Renew Sponsorship Pact

New deal extends through 2018 season

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

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Major League Baseball and Anheuser-Busch InBev today announced a continuation of their 33-year relationship, finalizing an extension that locks in the brewer as baseball’s official beer sponsor through 2018.

While financials were not disclosed, analysts estimate that the current deal is worth upward of $40 million per season, roughly half of which is devoted to TV advertising and promotional commitments.

The deal officially kicks in next season, but a new wrinkle will be rolled out in October. Per terms of the agreement, A-B will be the presenting sponsor of the MLB’s inaugural single-elimination wild card playoff games, which will air Oct. 5 on TBS.

In keeping with the new agreement, Budweiser has also invested in 30-second spots that will air during TBS’ wild card coverage. (The last time TBS hosted a one-game play-in was on Oct. 6, 2009, when the Twins beat the Tigers in 12 innings in front of a national TV audience of 6.54 million viewers.)

A-B will also sponsor the league’s opening week in April and a concert series to be held at the MLB Fan Cave, which occupies the old Tower Record space at Broadway and East 4th Street in Manhattan.

This year’s Fan Cave concerts featured performances by the likes of Nas, Ziggy Marley and the Avett Brothers. To inaugurate the new deal, Budweiser will host a concert tonight with New York/Philly indie rockers The Walkmen, who are about to set off on a tour in support of their recently released record, Heaven.

In addition to the blanket pact with the league, A-B also sponsors 23 of the MLB’s 32 franchises, a roster that includes the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Shortly after the deal was announced, Budweiser carried out a virtual takeover of its MLB partner sites, running banners and skyscrapers declaring its pride in re-upping with MLB. Flanked by the Budweiser and MLB logos, the new ads read: “America’s Pastime and America’s Beer. The Celebration Continues.”

That message was echoed in the league’s official statement. “For more than 30 years, America’s national pastime has partnered with America’s beer, and we are proud to continue the union of two brands that evoke such loyalty and emotion,” said Tim Brosnan, Major League Baseball's evp of business, by way of announcing the extension. “By partnering on initiatives like the wild card and MLB Fan Cave, this new agreement truly demonstrates an evolution in our relationship.”

A-B in 2011 invested $516 million in measured media, of which roughly $410 million, or 80 percent, was devoted to TV. Budweiser accounts for three-quarters of A-B’s annual media spend.