Major League Baseball Becomes First Big-League Sports Property To Sign CBD Sponsorship Deal

The MLB is the first big-league sports property to officially have a CBD sponsor, a move that will give the league a piece of the growing CBD market in the U.S, estimated to be worth $4.9 billion worldwide this year and projected to reach $12.64 billion by 2026.

Charlotte’s Web CWEB CWBHF has signed a deal designating it the “Official CBD of MLB,” which includes exclusive category rights and covers this year’s postseason and an additional three years.

Charlotte’s Web is launching, via its own e-commerce, a line of CBD products, which will carry MLB’s familiar silhouetted batter logo. The brand will run electronic signage during the playoffs and World Series and is planning a World Series sweepstakes promotion, according to the Sports Business Journal (SBJ). Under the terms of the deal, the MLB is also receiving shares in Charlotte’s Web Holdings.

The MLB officially approved CBD sponsorships for team jersey patches and more in June of this year. Although sponsorships can only be sold if the company has been certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), meaning that CBD products cannot contain psychoactive levels of THC.

"We've been watching this category for a while and waiting for it to mature to the point where we can get comfortable with it," MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden said at the time.

In June, the MLB opened CBDs as a sponsorship category for the league and its clubs, with the proviso that products seeking league or team sponsorship rights be NSF-certified. Charlotte’s Web received that certification. 

“Our fans are very much the kind of customers they are looking for, and we like being first. It's a good opportunity for us and the clubs. The last few companies that came to see us about this, the process of NSF certification was embraced. That gave us a comfort level to be able to move forward,” Garden said.

Who's Next?

Now the question is, which leagues will follow the MLB’s lead by welcoming CBD sponsorships? 

Some are already on board: The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced an exclusive, multi-year, multi-million dollar CBD partnership with Aurora Cannabis ACB in 2019. Its current five-year sponsorship with Love Hemp WRHLF is one of the MMA’s top 10 sponsorships. 

“There’s opportunity across sports,” said UFC SVP/Global Partnerships Paul Asencio. “I don’t think every team will have a (CBD) partner, but probably every league will. It’s just a really good connection and marketing platform because professional athletes are using these products and will continue to.”

Photo: Wikipedia

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