PFL signs Exclusive Multi-Year Deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev

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The Professional Fighters League continues to make important business moves to compete with the UFC

Modelo isn’t the only beer in MMA.

On Monday the Professional Fighters League (PFL) announced that it had signed a multi-year global rights deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI). While no financial details were disclosed, the deal gives ABI malt-beverage category exclusivity within the league. This also applies to its media rights holders, camera-visible branding, intellectual property rights for advertising, and pass-through rights for retail and on-premise campaigns. The PFL will also produce exclusive digital content for ABI under the terms of the deal. Although the specifics of what that entails remain unclear.

The main focus of the sponsorship will center around Estrella Jalisco being “The Official Beer of the PFL”. Estrella Jalisco was introduced to the U.S. market by Anheuser-Busch back in 2016. It was introduced as an alternative to the best-selling American import Corona. It also competes with Heineken’s Tecate and Dos Equis brands.  While the beverage has been available in Texas and California, ABI is planning to expand distribution of Estrella Jalisco to larger metro areas. Those areas include New York, Chicago, and parts of Florida.

The Official PFL Beer

The deal marks the return of ABI into the world of MMA sponsorship. This comes after the Bud Light brand, (former longtime sponsor of the UFC), was replaced by Modelo in 2018.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to get back into MMA,” said Nick Kelly, ABI head of U.S. sports marketing. “The ability for us to plan with [The PFL] regular season and playoffs format makes it much easier for us to leverage.”

The partnership comes on the heels of the PFL signing an exclusive multi-year media rights deal with ESPN. A deal which was for a rumored $5 million this past February. Only in its second season, the rebranded World Series of Fighting is quickly becoming a hot commodity for sponsors and investors. Specifically, for ones who believe that its regular season and playoff format will deliver viewers in the younger demographics.

“Brands understand how to activate with our model and we have good traction with millennials, Gen Z and multicultural audiences,” said PFL CEO Peter Murray. “Thursday nights have also become important for beer and other sports advertisers as they look to prime the pump for the weekend.”

As the PFL continues to gain momentum in securing name brands to partner with, only time will tell if it translates into bigger ratings. As well as higher profits for all those involved.

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Patrick is a consultant turned journalist who loves the fight game and everything to do with it. Focusing on the politics, business, and general state of MMA are his mainstays, though he'll dabble in analysis and best bets when he can. He also enjoys football, basketball, baseball, and great jokes in general so feel free to reach out and berate him on social media whenever you disagree with him.

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