Sponsor Insights

As CBD’s Popularity Grows, Will Other Leagues Follow MLB?

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. 

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