By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
January 11, 2013
T-Mobile has signed a major sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball to become the league’s official wireless partner, filling a sponsorship category that the league had kept vacant for more than a decade. The three-year deal is worth an estimated $125 million, and is being billed as both a technology and marketing partnership. As part of the deal, T-Mobile is providing MLB with a new On-Field Communication System, which will replace dugout and bullpen phones with branded cell phones. Teams such as the Yankees and the Giants, which have partnerships with AT&T, are expected to decline this option.
In addition to the league sponsorship, T-Mobile, the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier, is forming partnerships with MLB’s TV rights holders. The company will sponsor ESPN’s “Wednesday Night Baseball” as well as select local broadcasts. The media buy is reminiscent to T-Mobile’s NBA sponsorship, which was not renewed in 2011. According to SportsBusiness Journal, T-Mobile was the 27th-biggest sports advertiser in 2011, spending nearly $85 million.