- Michelob Ultra has signed on as the first major sponsor of Women's Sports Network, an ad-supported streaming service dedicated to women’s sports, according to a news release.
- The yearlong agreement gives Michelob Ultra access to the network’s award-winning studio to develop content showing how its brand is impacting women’s sports and athletes. “Game On,” a daily highlights show, will also feature a Michelob Ultra Bar on set throughout 2023.
- One aim of the deal is to help league partners better connect with fans. Sports have become the linchpin of Michelob Ultra’s marketing and made the beer one of the fastest-growing brands in parent Anheuser-Busch InBev’s portfolio.
Michelob Ultra is shoring up its commitments to women in sports while betting bigger on the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) model that’s popular with consumers. Michelob Ultra is the second-largest beer in the U.S. behind sister brand Bud Light, AB InBev has said.
Women’s Sports Network bills itself as a first-of-its-kind network dedicated exclusively to women’s sports coverage. It recognizes the swelling interest in women’s sports, even as the category receives only about 5% of media coverage, according to researchers. A product of FAST Studios, the service has league partners such as the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Ladies Professional Golf Association and U.S. Ski and Snowboard divisions.
Women’s Sports Network launched in November, meaning Michelob Ultra is getting in on the ground floor as the organization seeks to raise its profile and provide 1,500 hours of live and original content this year, along with digital and social media content for leagues and teams. The network is available through several platforms, including Amazon Freevee, FuboTV, Tubi, VIZIO WatchFree+, Roku and LG Channels on LG Smart TVs.
Through the pact, Michelob Ultra has a means of developing franchised properties with a direct line to teams and talent. “Game On,” a daily highlights program that’s had guests including existing Michelob Ultra spokesperson Nneka Ogwumike, will also put the brand front and center. The move builds on the beer marketer’s efforts to support women’s sports in a broad sense. In 2021, the AB InBev brand announced a five-year pledge that will see it commit $100 million to increase the visibility of women’s sports.
Standout Michelob Ultra marketing in recent years has put women first, even when running around men’s leagues. Its past two Super Bowl campaigns starred Serena Williams, for instance. In November, the brand ran ads telling the story of Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, and the adversity she faced. The creative was complemented by a Run Fund assisting women and non-binary athletes planning to participate in this year’s New York City Marathon.
Others in the beer industry have ramped up their bids to appeal to women as they seek fresh avenues for growth and attempt to rectify past marketing strategies that often leaned on objectifying tropes. Miller Lite, a Michelob Ultra rival, recently rolled out a Women’s History Month initiative to turn old sexist beer ads into fertilizer that will be donated to women farmers to grow hops.