Bud Light Has ‘Plan B’ if NFL Doesn’t Play

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On the list of those not planning to go down with the National Football League’s work stoppage: Bud Light. The top-selling U.S. beer expects to begin its reign as the NFL’s official beer with the coming season – only if there is a season.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, brewer of Bud Light, has a backup plan if NFL games are spiked, company CEO Carlos Brito said.
“We’ve been thinking about, of course, developing a plan B in the unfortunate case (a work stoppage) happens,” Brito told analysts during an earnings conference call this month.
A-B InBev paid well for the privilege to be the NFL’s official beer sponsor. It cut a deal last year widely reported to be worth $1.2 billion over six years.
Brito declined to say during the earnings call whether the brewer was obligated to pay even without a season.
It’s not so outlandish: the NFL still collects on its $4 billion-a-year TV rights deal even without games.
But a company spokesman told the Post-Dispatch that Bud Light keeps its money if the NFL fails to play, allowing the brewer “to reinvest those dollars to reach Bud Light consumers in other, relevant ways.”
Sports marketing has long been seen as a good way to sell beer. Last year, A-B InBev snagged the NFL deal from Coors Light and settled a dispute with Major League Baseball, allowing Budweiser to remain that league’s official beer. Last month, Molson Canadian and Coors Light bumped off Labatt and Bud Light to become the National Hockey League’s official beers.
The NFL is facing its first work stoppage since the 1987 strike-shortened season. The current dispute is scheduled for a court hearing April 6, with the NFL players’ union seeking a court injunction to block the owners’ lockout.
Brito told analysts that the brewer was “optimistic” the NFL would play this season.
He then sought to distance Bud Light’s fortunes from those of the football league.
“But let’s remind ourselves that Bud Light grew in the last three years without that property,” he said.
He added: “It’s a very good addition, a very important addition. But again, Bud Light grew even without the NFL.”