Jersey patches––which made their highly anticipated debut in MLB last season––will undoubtedly take center stage, during Opening Day today, in the league’s sponsorship landscape again this year, as teams seek strategic partners for this high-visibility asset.

Notably, local sponsorships dominate jersey patch deals: a staggering 82% of the current 17 MLB jersey patch partners hail from the same market as their respective teams––underscoring teams’ unique connection with their local fan bases, showcasing the importance of community, and giving many brands both national and global visibility.

That said, 43% of MLB teams are still without a jersey sleeve partner going into the 2024 season. Categories poised for a potential partnership in pro baseball this year––based on their existing prevalence in jersey patch deals in other major pro sports leagues––include technology, food products, consumer products, business services, and transportation.

A few teams with open jersey patch opportunities and prospective target brands, from the categories above within the teams local markets:

  • Philadelphia Phillies: LifeBrand, PenTeleData, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
  • Texas Rangers: Yeti, Nutrafol, and Jack Black 
  • Chicago Cubs: CDW, Impact Networking, and Access One

Last season, digital ads on videoboards, ribbon board digital ads, backstop rotating banner ads, outfield wall ground-level signage, and backstop fixed signage ranked as the most sought-after assets within jersey patch deals––highlighting brands’ perennial preference for high-visibility advertising formats that engage fans during pivotal game moments. Surprisingly, most of these partnerships did not include branded TikTok posts, signage projected on playing surfaces, and sponsored in-game TV features/segments. Only time will tell if these high-exposure assets will become more popular in forthcoming jersey patch partnerships this year. 

Looking ahead, 2024 MLB jersey patch deals seem ripe for innovation: the coming season could witness a paradigm shift in sponsorship strategy, as brands increasingly embrace the largely untapped potential of digital and interactive assets. By integrating more digital elements, like augmented reality experiences, that are geared towards fan engagement––both in-stadium and through social media channels––brands can make an indelible impression by offering fans a dazzling glimpse of the technology-driven future of sponsorships. 

Shohei Ohtani’s groundbreaking 10-year, $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers is a literal game-changer that’s poised to reshape the sponsorship landscape within both the National League (NL) West and baseball at large. 

One of the most noteworthy trends to emerge during Ohtani's six-year tenure with the Los Angeles Angels: the surge in Japanese brands investing in backstop signage, not only at Angel Stadium but also at rivals’ ballparks.

More than 25 Japanese brands partnered with the Angels to advertise behind the plate during the 2023 season—over half of the team’s total behind-the-plate sponsors—as they moved to align themselves with one of baseball's most dynamic talents, and connect with Japanese viewers tuning in to see “Shotime” in action. 

Ohtani's star power reverberated far beyond LA, as teams in the American League (AL) West seized the opportunity to capitalize on heightened exposure in the Japanese market. The Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, and Oakland A's saw Japanese backstop ads nearly double in 2023 when Ohtani graced their home fields—underscoring Ohtani’s global influence and outsize commercial appeal across Major League Baseball.

As Ohtani’s move to the Dodgers continues to make headlines worldwide, will the NL West ballparks see a similar influx of Japanese backstop ads? Our data reveals that Japanese brands favor backstop rotating signage during Ohtani's time on the mound and at bat to maximize exposure—a trend that’s virtually guaranteed to gain momentum as his profile reaches new heights with the Dodgers, a big-market team that’s boasted the highest attendance in the league for ten consecutive years and counting. The Angels ranked second by number of backstop ads last season, while the Dodgers were among those with the fewest, thanks to a more selective approach. Time will tell how the “Ohtani Effect” will impact sales of this asset at Dodgers Stadium in 2024.  

After adding a staggering 5M followers in the last nine months, Ohtani, who earned a reported $40M in endorsements this year, has cemented his status as the most followed MLB player on Instagram, with 6.5M—almost double the followers of the New York Yankees, the most followed MLB team. With his star sure to keep rising—and his sponsorship earnings expected to grow sizeably with his move—watch this space for more deal news as brands race to partner with this once-in-a-generation athlete.

Half a billion dollars - That's the estimated incremental sponsorship revenue the Oakland Athletics could generate over the next decade following their approved move to Vegas. Here's how:

When the Las Vegas Raiders relocated from Oakland, they experienced a staggering 691% increase in sponsorship revenues, along with a 94% growth in sponsors – all within a mere 36-month period.

Should the A's replicate the Raiders' success, this could translate to acquiring approximately 60-70 new sponsors annually, potentially generating $45-60 million in sponsorship revenues. Such a feat would position the team within the top third of Major League Baseball in terms of sponsorship earnings.

Over 1,000 brands currently have a sponsorship deal within the Las Vegas market. Who are the most active brands that will look to sponsor the A's once they make their move?

Top 10 Brands sponsoring Rights Holders in the Las Vegas market currently:

  1. Las Vegas Tourism  (Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority)  
  2. Las Vegas Review-Journal    
  3. MGM Resorts International    
  4. Coca-Cola    
  5. Desert Radiology    
  6. Allegiant Air    
  7. Toyota    
  8. Cox Communications    
  9. Resorts World Las Vegas    
  10. America First Credit Union

Of the 1,000+ brands with a sponsorship deal, the top categories these brands come from:

  1. Hotel,  Restaurant, Leisure    
  2. Technology    
  3. Beverage - Alcohol    
  4. Auto    
  5. Media

It’s been a banner year for the sport long known as America’s favorite pastime, as virtually all signs indicate that Major League Baseball is in the midst of a thrilling evolution that’s hitting home runs by a host of measures. New rules introduced this season aimed at improving pace of play and heightening action on the field–led by the pitch clock–have yielded huge dividends. As 2023 games averaged 24 minutes less than last year–and their shortest length since 1984–MLB attendance increased 9.6% to 70.75 million, rebounding to its highest level since 2017, and the greatest year-over-year increase at the gate since 1993 (not including Covid-impacted seasons).

Fittingly, the postseason is also surprising and delighting baseball fans. While large-market teams didn’t make the cut, five teams—Arizona, Baltimore, Miami, Minnesota, and Texas—are back after multiyear absences, contributing to the most diversely competitive tournament in recent memory.

All of these developments spelled great news for teams and sponsors alike. Team sponsorship revenue surged 23% as an astounding 500 new brands entered the league. Against this backdrop, the ongoing migration toward all things digital continued unabated, as dugout digital signage made waves as MLB’s most purchased new asset this season–one of nearly 25 to debut this year—while digital innovations keep transforming the sponsorship landscape and present a dazzling new world of marketing possibilities for brands.

And as players like reigning MVP Shohei Ohtani ascend to the rarefied ranks of wildly marketable pro sports superstars like Lebron James and Joe Burrow, a new crop of standout talents including Julio Rodriguez, Elly de la Cruz, and Corbin Carroll are leveraging both their prodigious talents and exploding social followings to rapidly build their brands both on and off the field.

For all these reasons and more, we’re excited to unveil our 2023 MLB Marketing Partnerships Report. Jointly authored by SponsorUnited’s Marketing Research & Insights and Marketing departments, it encompasses more than 805 brands, 3,500 sponsorship deals, and over 13,500 sponsorship assets from January 2019 through September 2023.

For full press release:

MLB made a triumphant return to the UK last weekend, as the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals faced off in a two-game “London Series”  at London Stadium. The much-ballyhooed event–which attracted nearly 110,000 fans between the two match-ups, the largest attendance for MLB baseball games this season–also offered sponsors a prime opportunity to showcase their league partnerships for a global audience.

With MLB having recently announced that the Mets will battle the Phillies in the 2024 MLB London games, will the news pique brands’ interest in a jersey patch sponsorship with Philadelphia’s finest? As brands continue to grow their sponsorship portfolios and globalize their business strategies, will the high-profile series influence those looking to secure a new jersey patch deal among MLB’s 18 open jersey opportunities? Only time will tell.

Notably, Stifel–the St. Louis-based financial services company that announced a seven-year deal as the Cardinals’ first jersey patch sponsor in May–seized the opportunity to also sponsor the London Series. Signage on the first-base line and outfield wall trumpeted Stifel’s presence, while exclusive ticket and suite access for the brand enhanced the partnership.

One thing is for certain: globalization has become a burgeoning key focus of US pro sports. Just a few weeks before MLB’s latest trip across the proverbial pond, we attended an event at “NBA House,” an NBA-hosted immersive basketball experience held June 1st and the 18th in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and timed to the NBA Finals. League sponsors including Budweiser, Ruffles, and Gatorade were on-hand to showcase their brands for the Brazilian audience, alongside prominent local brands like food giant Sadia–which announced its third consecutive year as an NBA sponsor in Brazil on May 23–and nutritional beverage brand Sustagen.

The NFL is also charging full speed ahead onto the world stage, with the long term goal of growing its global fan base by 26% to 240M. To that end, the league launched its international home marketing areas (IHMA) initiative in early 2022, granting teams access to foreign territories for marketing and fan engagement. Ten clubs used the 2022 NFL Draft to highlight their overseas marketing efforts by announcing draft picks from iconic locations within their IHMAs, while the league will play a record five games this season in Germany and the UK.

The league’s international growth offers both US and foreign sponsors huge opportunities to build new audiences–generating additional revenue streams for teams through ticket and merch sales, along with broadcasting rights. Nineteen teams already have access to 30 IHMAs across 10 countries (and counting), begging the question: will the NFL become the first transatlantic pro sports league?

Meanwhile, having just announced its 2023-24 schedule, the NHL is also eyeing distant shores with its four-game Global Series in Stockholm, Sweden, from November 16-19, 2023. As in the NHL match-ups in Finland and the Czech Republic last year, we expect to see both US and local brands utilizing DED signage as well as dasher boards, as both stateside and foreign sponsors seize the opportunity to engage new audiences.

While CBD products become increasingly popular around the world, the CBD category is also steadily on the rise: the number of CBD brands actively buying sponsorship/media has increased 145% since 2020, with more than 250 brands activating over the last 12 months.

Even U.S. pro sports have begun to embrace the fledgling category, thanks to MLB’s groundbreaking decision in June 2022 allowing teams to sign CBD brands to sponsorship deals. That milestone was followed by the historic announcement in October 2022 that CBD brand Charlotte’s Web had inked a strategic, exclusive multi-year partnership with the league. And just earlier this month on April 7th, the Chicago Cubs announced a deal with MYND DRINKS that made the hemp-based beverage brand its Official CBD Partner–and the first CBD partner of an MLB club.

CBDMD, 3Chi, and Charlotte’s Web tie for 1st atop the category by number of sponsorships,  with fourfive and Beam Organics rounding out the top five. 34% of all active brands in this category leverage media properties or endorsers and influencers via social media partnerships. 3Chi’s deal with Barstool Sports–which is promoted on Barstool’s KFC Radio, Spittin Chiclets, and Chicks in the Office podcasts–illustrates brand sponsors’ potential for cross-promotion within media companies: the podcasts promote the partnership, as do the host podcasters, influencers themselves who repost co-branded stories to their personal accounts–thus multiplying 3Chi’s visibility across multiple channels and growing its reach well beyond the parameters of the original dea making these assets even more desirable when inking a deal.

Social posts are the most leveraged asset outside of property entitlements within this category, with 40% of deals including a social post. Four of the top five social posts by total engagement in the last 12 months were by athletes or influencers, with Beam Organics and Love Hemp each owning two of the five top posts. The top performer–a co-branded UFC and Love Hemp Instagram post partnership showcasing the matchups for a UFC card in London–garnered nearly 130K engagements.

As the CBD category continues to evolve, will the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLS follow MLB’s lead and also greenlight CBD sponsors? And will Charlotte’s Web and MYND DRINKS look to dominate the category within America’s favorite pastime, or will more brands scramble to grab a piece of the action by partnering with other teams? Only time will tell.

While it’s been just two weeks since Opening Day–the first since the MLB approved sponsors on uniforms–we’ve already seen 8 jersey patch deals activated, with the latest, between the New York Mets and NewYork-Presbyterian, having debuted last week. Eight different categories have bought MLB jersey patches thus far–and with 22 more jersey patch opportunities open, here’s a rundown of which brands, categories, and teams have inked a deal, and which categories lead other major pro sports leagues in buying this asset.

Of the eight current MLB jersey patch deals, seven are local brands headquartered in each team’s respective market. The only team without a local partner is the San Diego Padres, which was the first ever to sign such a partnership–with Motorola–last April.

Another interesting aspect of the MLB jersey patch trend is the placement of the patches on the uniforms. The sleeve on which the patch is worn depends on whether the player is a right-handed or left-handed batter, ensuring that the patch is visible to the centerfield cameras with the prime shot of the at-bat. This attention to detail highlights the strategic approach teams are taking to maximize the visibility of their sponsors and deliver value to their partners.

There are 3 other Major Pro Sports leagues that allow uniform sponsors during the regular season: MLS and the NBA with a primary jersey patch, and the NHL with helmet signage. Financial (23%), Technology (15%), Healthcare (10%), Auto (6%) and Insurance (6%) lead the list of categories buying these assets within these leagues. So far in MLB, one Healthcare brand, (NewYork-Presbyterian) and one Financial brand (MassMutual) have a jersey patch deal–so will Technology, Auto, and Insurance follow suit? Or will the league entice other categories–like CBD, whose sponsorships the league approved last June–to leverage this high-profile asset? (Speaking of, the Chicago Cubs signed a deal with MYND DRINKS last week–marking the first CBD team deal within MLB.) Time will tell this season, as more deals are sure to be announced imminently.  

The MLB is leading the charge from a partnership perspective as the sports betting industry continues to evolve in the US, as revealed in the MLB 2022 Marketing Partnerships Report released last week.

According to the report, 13 MLB teams hail from states where retail and online betting have been legalized. In states where online gambling approval is still pending, teams have inked in-venue signage assets to stake their claim as future official partners to sports betting brands.

Take the Chicago White Sox, for example. Illinois’ first retail sportsbook debuted in March 2020, and the team unveiled teaser signage with Caesars Sportsbook in September 2021. Following the state’s legalization of online sportsbooks in March 2022, the White Sox named Caesars Sportsbook its official sports betting partner.

The deal includes the following assets:

  • Entertainment content, such as the “KLINKO Challenge”
  • 1st & 3rd base digital ads
  • Outfield wall signage
  • Backstop rotating banner ads
  • Digital ads in the outfield’s mid-upper level
  • Ribbon board digital ads
  • Inner bowl signage
  • Digital ads on the Videoboard
  • Stadium concourse TV commercial
  • Exterior ground rotating billboard

During the 2022 season, the Houston Astros, Cleveland Guardians, and St. Louis Cardinals were just a few teams that followed the White Sox’s lead, selling outfield wall signage in anticipation of online betting’s imminent legalization in their home states.

Global Icon and MLB Star Shohei Ohtani Sets New Record for Brand Endorsements

Major League Baseball sponsorships increase 8% year-over-year

The MLB 2022 Marketing Partnerships Report analyzes brand partnerships across the league, teams, and individual players during the 2022 season. The report found that MLB secured 3,350 sponsorships this year (an 8% increase YoY) and its teams averaged 108 sponsorships each–more than the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS.

“MLB and its teams have continued to lean heavily into initiatives that provide brands with innovative ways to expand consumer reach,” said Bob Lynch, founder and CEO of SponsorUnited. “The new streaming rights deal with Apple, virtual signage, teams further digitizing stadium signage, and jersey patches are just a few of many examples of how they’re bringing baseball brand partnerships into the future.”

The report also found:

Shohei Ohtani “Shotime” is the most marketable MLB player in recent historyThe Los Angeles Angels hitter/pitcher phenomenon totaled 17 brand endorsements in 2022, breaking Aaron Judge’s record of 13 endorsements in 2021. Shotime tripled his endorsement revenue after becoming the first player to appear on the covers of GQ, Time, Sports Illustrated, and MLB The Show in a six-month span. The reigning AL MVP also attracted 22 Japanese brands to Angel Stadium, the most of any MLB ballpark.

The Cincinnati Reds lead the league in sponsorships for the third consecutive yearWith 200 brand deals this year, the Cincinnati Reds continues to be the most sponsored MLB team for the third year in a row. The team’s largest sponsors include Kroger, PNC Bank, altafiber and TriHealth. The New York Yankees take the #2 spot with approximately 170 deals–climbing from #4 in 2021–while the Boston Red Sox land at #3 with more than 150 sponsorships.  

StubHub and New Era are the leading sponsors of the official leagueAs long-time official league partners, StubHub and New Era have representation at stadiums for each of the 30 MLB teams. The top non-league partners, with more than 10 deals across various teams, include State Farm, Coca-Cola, Progressive, Chick-fil-A and Toyota.

Digital advertising takes center stage on outfield walls while static signage dipsFrom 2021 to 2022 YoY, MLB saw an increase in demand for digital signage within baseball parks. Home run territory became a hot commodity for advertisers seeking clearer, more creative messaging through LED technology. The number of brands “going digital” grew by 36%–led by the Food and Alcohol categories–while static signage decreased 23%. Digital ads in the mid-upper outfield grew by 53%, followed by ads on the video board at 14%.

MLB ramps up brand deals with CBD companiesFollowing MLB’s announcement in June allowing teams to seek CBD sponsorships, CBD inquiries increased 9x versus the month before (May 2022). According to SponsorUnited, more than 150 CBD brands were searched within the platform, cbdMD being the top search (with 13 current sponsorships).

The 2022 MLB season saw the league take baseball audiences’ changing appetites to heart–as reflected in a groundbreaking new sponsorship category and restructured longtime sponsorship agreements.

MLB’s landmark approval of CBD sponsorships for teams last June–and the league’s own deal with CBD brand Charlotte’s Web to become MLB’s first-ever CBD sponsor, inked this month–underscores its groundbreaking efforts to cater to fans’ evolving tastes and further expand its fan base, a progressive approach that’s sure to attract even more savvy brands to baseball.

Following the landmark June announcement last June, CBD inquiries increased 9x versus the month before, as MLB bigwigs researched over 150 cannabis brands. cbdMD led the list of CBD companies searched most frequently by MLB executives on the SU platform during the 2022 season–joining two others among the top 10 most searched brands overall.

Meanwhile, MLB’s sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev–the longest in the league’s history at 42 years–extended A-B InBev's marketing rights beyond Budweiser, the league’s co-exclusive beer sponsor, to encompass the megabrewer’s canned cocktails and hard seltzers. The move reflects the burgeoning popularity of other beverages within the Alcohol category, while beer’s own share has declined 13% over the last five years.

Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani became the most marketable MLB player in recent history during the 2022 MLB season, dazzling fans around the globe with his talents. Let’s take a look at his current partnerships and his arguably boundless endorsement potential.

Japan’s megastar designated hitter/pitcher racked up 17 brand endorsements in 2022, breaking Aaron Judge’s record of 13 deals the previous season. "Shotime" tripled his endorsement revenue after becoming the first player to appear on the covers of GQ, Time, Sports Illustrated, and MLB The Show during a six-month span.

While the bona fide phenom has yet to partner with brands on social media–another potential marketing juggernaut for him and prospective sponsors–Ohtani’s 21% growth YoY in followers on Instagram, his only current social platform, offers would-be partners a potential audience of 1.5 million fans (and counting). His sole branded post so far: the announcement of his star turn on the cover of MLB The Show.

Ohtani’s relatively low social media profile aside, his outsize international appeal is such that he’s enticed a slew of Japanese brands to advertise stateside when he’s on the field–not only in Angel Stadium, but in other MLB ballparks as well. These far-flung brands bought backstop ads all season when the dynamo stepped up to bat: 22 scooped up signage at Angels home games, while 11 brands followed him to 10 opposing teams' stadiums.

The 22 brands buying “Shotime” at Angels home games were:

  • Konica Minolta
  • Honda
  • Sapporo Ichiban
  • Left-U
  • Daiso Japan Store
  • Yamada
  • Inpex
  • Yamadai
  • Nishikawa
  • Lotte
  • Cygames
  • JAE- Japan Aviation Electronics Industry
  • GungHo Online Entertainment
  • NEC
  • Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Funai Electric
  • THK
  • Nikon
  • Yakult
  • Yokohama
  • Nitto Tire
  • Toyota

The first inning is prime time for these brands, as it all but guarantees exposure with Ohtani on the mound or at the plate. Suffice it to say that if the 2022 season is any indication, the sky’s seemingly the limit for “Shotime” within the sponsorship universe.

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs who defeated the Cincinnati Reds in the second edition of MLB's Field of Dreams Game presented by GEICO.

Most frequent brands seen on Fox Broadcast:

Most frequent assets leveraged:

  • Recorded Commercial
  • Virtual Signage Projected in Lower Bowl
  • Live Read Commercial
  • 1st Base / 3rd Baseline Billboards
  • Broadcast Ad / Logo Pop Up

* Venue assets under MLB property. Broadcast assets under MLB on FOX property

The MLB Home Run Derby, presented by T-Mobile, took place Monday in LA, with Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals–arguably the hottest player in professional baseball– taking home the championship.

Over 30 brands, all MLB partners, had signage across Dodger Stadium. T-Mobile’s nearly 15 assets ranged from event-related content (a sponsored 30 seconds of bonus batting time for each contestant who hit two home runs over 440 feet) to signage across the outfield.

Meanwhile, more than 50 brands leveraged the event’s ESPN broadcast with commercials. Notably, 3 of the top 5 TV advertisers were within the QSR Pizza category:

  • Lending Tree
  • PizzaHut
  • Domino’s
  • Apple
  • Papa Johns

Home Run Derby champion Juan Soto–the youngest player ever to debut in the MLB, at age 19 in 2018–has 5 endorsement deals, with Under Armour, Lids, Glu Mobile, QuickBooks, and Wilson Sporting Goods. Unlike many other pro athletes, Soto utilizes TikTok, where he showcases his QuickBooks & Under Armour sponsorships.

The Derby was followed by the 2022 MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, where the American League beat the National League by a score of 3-2.

With 8 total assets, GEICO served as presenting sponsor of the broadcast on FOX. GEICO and MasterCard were the top advertisers, with 6 commercials each during game breaks.

Chevrolet, Google Cloud, MasterCard, and Papa Johns each presented featured segments during the game:

  • Chevrolet sponsored the MVP Award, which went to New York Yankee, Giancarlo Stanton.
  • The “Statcast,” which measures the exit velocity and distances of home runs, was sponsored by Google Cloud.
  • MasterCard sponsored the Stand Up To Cancer portion of the broadcast.
  • The pre-show “Countdown to First Pitch” clock and the starting lineups at gametime were both sponsored by Papa John’s.

Similar to the Home Run Derby, signage at the stadium from MLB partners included a variety of assets, such as projected, 1st & 3rd baseline signage, and lower bowl signage.

With the MLB All-Star Game just around the corner, let’s take a look at the endorsement stats of eight standout players–four from each league–to see how their deals (and social media standing) stack up.

American League

  • Mike Trout: A bonafide superstar in the MLB, the center fielder leads the league in total social followers, with 5.4 million (including 160K on TikTok), though doesn’t crack the top 20 players in total endorsements. Notably, rising star Vladimir Gurrero Jr. nearly equals Trout in endorsement deals, despite a social following that trails Trout’s by 4 million.
  • Shohei Ohtani: International star and Trout’s LA Angels teammate, the Japanese phenom–nicknamed “Shotime”--ranks among the top 5 players in the league for endorsements, with 11. He’s also hitting homers on social media, where his followers on Instagram–his only channel–have grown 93% to 1.4 million in the last year.
  • Aaron Judge: The Yankees superstar bet on himself before the season began, turning down a seven-year contract extension–and so far it’s paid off with his best season yet in the majors. He ranks #11 in social followers in the MLB, and has 5 endorsement deals–including T-Mobile, whose commercials feature him and teammate Giancarlo Stanton. Given his banner year so far, Judge is in a prime position to ink more endorsement deals–as well as a potentially record-setting contract–when he becomes a free agent in the offseason.
  • Rafael Devers: The youngest of our roundup at 25, the Boston Red Sox third baseman has just over 200K followers across social media, a number that’s climbed 38% over the last year. His on-field performance has grown steadily since he entered the league in 2017, netting him 4 endorsement deals so far–a number that’s likely to rise in step with his future All-Star appearances.

National League

  • Paul Goldschmidt: Nicknamed “Goldy,” the St. Louis Cardinals first baseman has 3 apparel deals–with Nike, Franklin Sports, and Rawlings–but notably no social media presence beyond Facebook. On pace for his best year ever, time will tell if he’ll soon make the jump to Instagram and TikTok, given his burgeoning talents on the field.  
  • Trea Turner: Traded from the Washington Nationals to the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, the shortstop has seen 109% growth in his social media presence (primarily Instagram) in the big, buzzy LA market. At 8.1%, Turner’s engagement rate across his more than 400K followers is strong; he tagged two brands he endorses, Adidas and Marucci, both together and separately in social posts from May 2022.
  • Mookie Betts: Turner’s teammate and another relatively recent addition to the Dodgers, Betts ranks 18th in social media followers in the MLB, with more than 1.5 million. He’s seen his endorsements more than double in the last year, from 4 to 9–a likely nod to the power of moving into a major media market.
  • Manny Machado: An avid offseason golfer, the San Diego Padres star has a longstanding deal with Callaway. Machado has over 700K followers on Instagram–his only social channel–making him the 10th most followed person in the San Diego market. Besides Callaway, he endorses Budweiser, Petco, and Essentia Water.

MLB Greenlights CBD

June 28, 2022

Given Major League Baseball’s landmark announcement last week that teams can now sell CBD sponsorships, the already buzzy category will soon be top of mind for many in pro sports. With more than 160 CBD brands buying sponsorship or media, MLB executives can expect an influx of calls from those vying for the coveted distinction of becoming the official CBD partner of an MLB team.

Time will tell if MLB players will also dive into CBD, following athletes like NFL star Dalvin Cook–who endorses CBD brand Medterra–and PGA golfers Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed, who both have deals with CBD sponsorship leader cbdMD.

Another sign of the CBD industry’s burgeoning momentum? Two CBD brands–cbdMD and Charlotte’s Web–made the top 50 in SponsorUnited’s June most-searched list.

Here’s a snapshot of current trends across properties where CBD partnerships are legal.

The current CBD industry leaders in terms of total sponsorship deals:

  1. cbdMD
  1. 3Chi
  1. Beam Organics
  1. Charlotte’s Web
  1. Select
  1. Pure Spectrum
  1. Trulieve
  1. Cannadips
  1. Mendi
  1. Love Hemp

The most popular assets bought by CBD brands are social media posts, property entitlements, digital content, outdoor signage, and event content/activations. Emerging marketing assets include Instagram posts, official sponsor/use of marks, logo displayed on websites, static billboards, and talent endorsements.

Social media is a leading activation for CBD brands–as evidenced by their top-five most engaged posts with the following properties:

  1. Jon Jones X Just CBD | Engagement: 186,479
  1. Kamaru Usman X Love Hemp | Engagement: 176,802
  1. Kamaru Usman X Love Hemp | Engagement: 159,361
  1. Charles Oliveira X AthletiCBD | Engagement: 128,363
  1. Ultimate Fighting Club (UFC) X Love Hemp | Engagement: 123,344

The MLB season is in full swing and teams have been taking their game seriously on social media. The Atlanta Braves are delivering both on and off the field with their 14 game winning streak and ranking #1 for social engagement for sponsors across all 30 MLB teams. The Braves are the 6th most followed team in the MLB with 6M total followers (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok). They boast a YOY increase of 13% and have an impressive 1.44 engagements on their sponsored posts. Brands like Truist (homefield naming partner), Papa Johns, Subway and RaceTrac can be seen leveraging and taking advantage of the Braves’ social game.

The other 9 of the top 10 MLB teams in terms of social engagement x sponsored posts include:

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (1.24M): The Dodgers have seen 1.24M engagements across all sponsored posts helping them claim the number two spot on the list. They are the 3rd ranked MLB team in terms of social following with 9.4M total followers. They rank #1 for followers on Instagram with 3M.

Top brands with Dodgers social deal include: UCLA Health, Yaamava Resort & Casino at San Manuel, Advance AutoParts.

  1. New York Mets (1.21M): The New York Mets not only have seen success in total engagement on sponsored posts, they also have the most active fans boasting the highest ratio of engagement on branded posts. 0.9% of Mets followers interact with branded posts, that’s almost 40% higher than the Dodgers.

Top brands with Mets social deal include: Coney Island Brewing Company, Citibank, loanDepot

  1. Chicago White Sox (734K): The Chicago White Sox are #4 on the list with a total engagement of 734K. The White Sox are the 16th most followed team in the MLB and 5th most followed property in the Chicago market. They saw a YOY increase of 5%.

Top brands with White Sox social deal include: FanDuel, Horseshoe Hammond, Guaranteed Rate

  1. Houston Astros (703K): The Astros come in at #5 with 703K total engagements on branded social posts. They are the 13th most followed team in the MLB with 4.4M followers across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.

Top brands with Astros social deal include: Reliant Energy, AT&T SportsNet and Budweiser

  1. Chicago Cubs (690K): The #6 team on the list, the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are the 2nd most followed property in Chicago and 4th most followed in the MLB with 8.3M total followers. They have a prominent presence on TikTok with 726K followers, the most of any MLB team.

Top brands with Cubs social deal include: Las Vegas Tourism, Sloan, Marriott Bonvoy

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (438K): The Milwaukee Brewers are the 24th most followed team in the MLB with 2.4M total followers and come in 7th for total engagement for sponsored posts with 438K. They have seen a 5% YOY increase and are the 2nd most followed property in the Milwaukee market, just behind the Bucks.

Top brands with Brewers social deal include: UW Credit Union, Fleet Farm, Ball Sports Wisconsin

  1. Philadelphia Phillies (274K): With 274K total engagement, the Philadelphia Phillies take the #8 spot. They are the 12th most followed team in the MLB with 4.5M total followers and the 4th most followed property in the Philadelphia media market.

Top brands with Phillies social deal include: SportsRadio 94 WIP, Independence Blue Cross, Herr’s

  1. San Diego Padres (272K): The San Diego Padres are ranked #9 with 272K total engagement on sponsored posts. They have 2.7M total followers across the major social media platforms and have a YOY increase of 16%.

Top brands with Padres social deal include: Petco, ClickUp, USAA

  1. Boston Red Sox (178K): Rounding out the top 10 is the Boston Red Sox with 178K total engagements. They are the 2nd most followed team in the MLB, only behind the New York Yankees, with 9.7M total followers.

Top brands with Red Sox social deal include: JetBlue, Nissan, STIHL

Every MLB season a star is born where fans and brands are eagerly tracking every move of the rising star. Back in 2019, the name Vladimir Guerrero Jr. might only have been known to Blue Jays fans. That quickly changed for the rising star turned superstar who landed a spot in the Home Run Derby his rookie year. He went from 0 endorsement deals in ’19 to 14 deals just two seasons later. Vlad is now the #1 most endorsed MLB athlete in the league.

Which rising stars will impress brands the most this year in hopes to secure top deals?

In his 5th season with the LA Angels, Taylor Ward is in the top 5 for MLB Batting Average and is expected to 4X his total at bats. This is a trend fans and brands love to see. Based on the current landscape of MLB player endorsements, which brands can we expect to target Ward?

Ranked by total number of MLB endorsements, here are the top 5 categories along with the top brands.

Leisure & Recreation

  1. Rawlings
  2. Wilson
  3. Topps

Apparel & Accessories

  1. Nike
  2. New Balance
  3. Franklin Sports


  1. Forever Collectibles
  2. Dick’s Sporting Goods
  3. TicketSmarter


  1. Adobe Creative Cloud
  2. MLB The Show
  3. Candy Digital

Beverage - Non-Alcoholic

  1. Pepsi
  2. BodyArmor
  3. Essentia Water

Here are players on the rise that brands should be watching this year:

  • Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
  • Triston McKenzie, Cleveland Guardians
  • Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox
  • Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox
  • Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
  • Jhoan Duran, Minnesota Twins
  • Nestor Cortes, New York Yankees
  • Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Jeremy Pena, Houston Astros
  • Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets

Nearly two months into the MLB season and brands are already leaving their mark on fans with their unique MLB collaborations. From high end apparel to snacks and alcohol, brands are making an impact across stadiums utilizing players, teams and the league to promote their brands.

What’s so special about these partnerships?

Hi-Chew has teamed up with three MLB teams, the Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays & St. Louis Cardinals to bring their candy to the stadiums. Hi-Chew will be available in-stadium for fans and even the Cardinals players in the dugout, to enjoy. The brand will also sponsor the Dance Cam for the Cardinals, the Kids Club for the Rays and have video board signage with the Cubs. Not a bad gig for an international brand brought stateside.

Gucci has created another MLB Capsule collection which will be sold through Gucci’s Vault, an online concept store. Fans can purchase limited-edition Gucci x MLB apparel inclusive of varsity jackets, zip-up hoodies, co-branded caps, and more.

As the Official Treat and Burger of the MLB Dairy Queen partnered with four MLB stars, Tim Anderson, Cody Bellinger, Bryce Harper & Fernando Tatis Jr. in a new advertising campaign. Tim Andersona & Bryce Harper will be going head to head promoting their favorite stackburger and blizzard treat and fans can even vote on the winning meal.

Budweiser and the MLB extended on their partnership right after the lockout ended this year. Budweiser partnered with 14 teams showcasing the team's branding on the front of their cans for sale in each team's city.

This year, the 16 NBA playoff teams saw a 12.5% increase in social media followers while non-playoff teams saw a 5% growth. Is this due to more time in the limelight or because their markets are home to the best players in the league?

Of the eight Eastern Conference playoff teams, the Chicago Bulls rank highest in the NBA in terms of social media followers, with nearly 30M and ranked #4 in the league. Interesting to note that of the eight teams, five rank #1 in their market in terms of social followers.

With superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets have the highest average engagement rate per post while the Boston Celtics have the highest total engagement. As defending champions, the Milwaukee Bucks have the most social deals, 55 unique brands to be exact. While the Atlanta Hawks have less social deals but the highest number of branded posts, with over 2,300 already this season..

Now onto the Western Conference teams. Four of the eight teams rank #1 in social media followers in their market while all eight teams are at least top three in their respective markets. To no surprise,, the Golden State Warriors rank highest amongst the crew in social follower rank within the NBA landing at #3. The Utah Jazz had the highest YoY growth with a 29% increase.

The Warriors take the title for having the highest average engagement rate as well as total engagement of over 50M. This separates them from the pack by a landslide, the Mavericks come in 2nd with a total engagement of just over 8M.

MLB New Deals

May 11, 2022

Just over a month into the MLB season and the league has seen six new partnerships enter the scene. Adobe, Capital One, Corona, Mattress Firm, Cue Health, and Dairy Queen all have a variety of assets and activations on display in stadium and throughout MLB broadcast.

Each brand has become an Official Sponsor of the league with their own designations. What assets have these brands utilized during the season so far?

Adobe signed a deal with the MLB becoming the Official Creativity Partner of the league. Throughout the season, Adobe can be spotted during nationally televised games with signage projected in the lower bowl and in MLB emails as a sponsored partner. Right after MLB Opening Weekend, on April 11th Adobe sponsored a video on Twitter with the MLB asking fans the question “What was your favorite part of Opening Weekend?”.

Capital One, the Official Bank and Credit CardPartner of the MLB, had over five assets activated in just the first month. In some games, their logo has been projected on the back of the pitcher’s mound as well as in the lower bowl during Sunday Night games on ESPN. Capital One also sponsors on YouTub, the 2022 Game Recaps along with a video series on known as Capital One Walk Offs showcasing the walk off wins from each game that has one.

Corona has become the Official Cerveza of the MLB. Already, Corona has leveraged the branded projected lower bowl signage, pre-roll commercials and branded social posts. As the season moves on, one can expect more custom content on and MLB Network.

Cue Health signed a deal with the MLB becoming the league’s trusted at-home testing solution for COVID-19. The first ever Apple TV Friday Night Baseball game was co-sponsored by Cue Health and ZipRecruiter. In addition, all @MLB game highlights on their social channels that night tagged Cue Health.

Designated the Official Treat and Burger of the MLB Dairy Queen has had projected signage in the lower bowl as well as multiple social tags by @MLB. Every Grand Slam through the season will also be sponsored by Dairy Queen on social media.

Mattress Firm was named the Official Sleep Wellness Partner of the MLB. The brand will be launching sweepstakes that gives winners the chance to win VIP experiences throughout the year.

MLB Endorsements

April 21, 2022

International superstar Shohei Ohtani has garnered an impressive 188% increase in social followers YoY. That has translated into signing more than 10 endorsements with brands globally. How does that compare to teammate Mike Trout? Trout’s social following has only grown 2% over the past year but it has not slowed down the amount of deals he has which are in the double digits.

How does this compare to other star players around the league?

Signing mega deals for a player's “performance” has not always meant endorsement deals off the field. Two examples of this are Max Scherzer & Gerrit Cole who are the two highest paid pitchers in baseball. Each player totals only two deals, both have a deal with Rawlings, while Scherzer has a deal with Indeed and Cole with Nike. Notably, both of these players are not as active on social media as some other star players having under 1 million followers each.

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper comes to mind when thinking about players like Trout having more than five endorsements off the field while signing big contracts for his game play. Harper has over 2 million followers on social media that his brand partners like Dairy Queen, Gatorade & Fanatics leverage. Harper's followers average a 4% engagement rate on his social posts totaling over 380k engagements, the most of the five athletes mentioned. Ohtani leads the group with 11 total deals and highest.

For the first time, Apple TV+ covered MLB Friday night baseball and their brand integrations throughout the broadcasts were seamless. The doubleheader broadcast was presented by Cue Health and ZipRecruiter and Apple products were uniquely featured throughout the broadcast.

Apple TV+’s first iteration of their MLB broadcast featured the New York Mets vs. the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros vs. the Los Angeles Angels, covered by Stephen Nelson (play-by-play), Hunter Pence (analyst), Katie Nolan (analyst), and Heidi Watney (reporter).

Sub-brands and concepts from Apple were integrated during the competition aiming to enhance the viewers experience. Each player’s “Walk Up Song” was presented by Apple Music with the Apple Music Logo and song details featured on screen next to the batter. How long until Apple integrates a QR code for viewers to automatically download or purchase music directly from the TV during Friday night games?

Apple’s Siri was utilized to activate both entertainment and event related content, providing fans with fun trivia questions and calculated probability stats during the games. Reporter Heidi Watney conducted interviews while wearing a pair of Apple Airpods Max. For added exposure for the brand, Watney was interrupted during her live interview with Jeremy Peña’s parents by Peña’s first ever career home run.

Amazon is also making headway in the professional sports broadcast game in 2022, after Prime Video was announced as the exclusive home of NFL Thursday Night Football. Prime Video’s first NFL broadcast was in 2017, with non-exclusive streaming rights to ten regular season games. The new Thursday coverage will feature legendary sports broadcaster Al Michaels, who covered his record 11th SuperBowl this past year. The National Football League currently  partners with Amazon by leveraging Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide new stats that create better experiences for fans, players and teams.

Apple TV+’s studio’s Pre-Game Show was presented by BetMGM and Post-Game Show by SoFI. The Friday night coverage will continue through the season, including tonight for Jackie Robinson Day. Broadcasts for Apple TV+ coverage are available in the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

MLB x AppleTV

With March Madness wrapping up earlier this week, it signifies the end of the first ever March Madness tournament in which many athletes participating have NIL deals. Before the tournament began, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero signed a deal with Yahoo! Sports in order to promote the company’s bracket “Pick’em game”. In addition to this deal, Sheets and Giggles (a mattress company) signed five athletes to be a part of their “Sleep Sixteen” campaign. This initiative promoted the effects of a good night's sleep by partnering with five female and male athletes who played the least amount of minutes on their teams, educating fans on the importance of rest.

During the tournament, two unlikely athletes were able to capitalize on big time moments.

The first being Doug Edert, who helped lead the 15th seeded Saint Peters Peacocks to a historic Elite Eight run. During this run Edert capitalized by signing a NIL Deal with Buffalo Wild Wings. Another unlikely deal came from an athlete, but not on the court. During the Saint Mary’s vs. Indiana first round game, a ball got stuck on top of the hoop. When nobody could get the ball down, Indiana cheerleader Cassidy Cerny saved the day by getting the ball down. Days after the game, BreakingT signed a deal with Cerny creating a shirt to encapsulate the moment.

Five popular basketball players have been taking advantage of the new NIL rules. Azzi Fudd, Zia Cooke, Paige Bueckers, Hailey Van Lith, & Paolo Banchero all have over four deals and more than 250k social media followers.

The MLB approved jersey patch inventory for the upcoming 2022 season. Teams aim to increase revenue to keep up with the growing cost of player contracts. According to SponsorUnited, there are over 165 brands actively buying sponsorships on uniforms among US Major Pro Sports. This includes helmets in NHL and jersey sleeves in MLS.

Of these categories, Healthcare takes the top spot as the most frequent sponsorship buyer for uniform exposure deals. Healthcare has 25% of all deals by a single category, followed by Financial and Technology categories. Will this trend continue in the MLB, or will new categories and emerging brands disrupt the scene?

In 2021, the MLB saw strategic partnerships thrive within the Education sector. This category brought in more revenue to the MLB than any other Major Pro Sport in the US. One category expected to see growth this season, according to SponsorUnited’s MLB 2021 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report, is Cryptocurrency. The top three most-searched brands in 2021 by MLB executives throughout the season were FTX, Coinbase and FTX also signed a moon-sized deal with the league.

After a season of empty stadiums in 2020, more than 400 brands produced content on the big screens located in the outfield as game/entertainment content on the videoboard was the MLB’s top activation in 2021. International Car Manufacturers continue to drive towards TV deals as they were the top category in 2021, a trend that is poised to continue for a 6th straight year.

With the MLB and MLBPA agreeing to a deal yesterday, Apple has signed a major deal with the league to stream games on Apple TV. This marks the 6th deal for the tech giant’s streaming service who will host “Friday Night Baseball,” a weekly doubleheader with live pre and post game shows. The deal will span across the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico and South Korea to start with more countries expected to be added.

So what does this mean for brands? Brands will get their share of the pie as this will also open up partnerships across streaming services to allow brands to expand their global reach and international brands to gain access to the US markets.

Amazon and the NFL have signed a similar agreement beginning this upcoming season as well as HBO Max the the U.S Soccer Federation beginning in 2023.

Many of these streaming platforms have the capabilities to reach hundreds of countries around the world and the TV landscape is changing. In a recent forecast of digital sports viewership by eMarketer, almost one in four US live sports viewers watched via digital channels in 2020. Within the Amazon and NFL partnerships, Amazon is expected to utilize enhanced shopping features, where users can interact mid-game with a product, increasing brand conversion rates. Traditional in-game commercials will continue to run, but with the ability to know your user, Amazon is expected to debut targeted advertisements which brands across the world will.

Major Pro Sport Tech Insight

The Tech Category is now the 6th highest ranked within Major Pro Sports sponsorships, averaging 9 sponsorship deals per team. Over 400 technology and consumer electronics brands are buying sponsorship or media across the leagues.

Interested in learning more about spend data within the Technology and Consumer Electronics industry? Download the Technology Annual Report for FREE now at

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