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Sharp Gets MLB Sponsorship

New York — Sharp has signed a three-year deal with Major League Baseball to make its AQUOS brand LCD TV line the sport’s official high-definition television.

Sharp, which becomes one of 20 MLB corporate sponsors, said it will also advertise during games broadcast by Fox, ESPN and Turner Sports.

“We feel Major League Baseball fans are aligned perfectly with the target demographic of people who are interested in buying LCD televisions from Sharp,” Bob Scaglione, Sharp’s consumer electronics marketing group senior VP, said in a media conference call. “This is the first time that Sharp has become an official sponsor of a sports league in the United States.”

Scaglione said the terms of the three-year deal were in the “tens of millions of dollars.” It will be the anchor to a larger brand enhancement initiative planned for the next three years.

Sharp will employ “baseball-themed creatives in its advertising that starts later this year,” Scaglione said. “We will be working with Major League Baseball on local retail activation that will include promotions and contests and additional advertising supporting our relationship with Major League Baseball.”

He said the agreement also gives Sharp the ability to “show our brand during baseball coverage,” although the details of that part of the deal “have not been totally ironed out.”

Sharp also becomes the presenting sponsor for the National and American League players of the month honors and the Hank Aaron Award, which recognizes the best hitter of the year in each league.

One of the largest segments of high-definition TV buyers is in the 25- to 54-year-old, $100,000-plus-a-year salary bracket, Scaglione said. Baseball fans are 23 percent more likely to exceed that income.

“The timing couldn’t be better. The time is right for Major League Baseball. The time is right for our fans,” said John Brody, MLB corporate sales and marketing senior VP. “Major League Baseball telecasts more games in high definition than any other sport, with more than 1,300 locally televised games during the 2006 season. It is projected that … with the work of our national partners FOX, ESPN and Turner, we will compliment those local telecasts with as many as 110 additional games, potentially produced in high definition.”

Scaglione said league pact is an extension on the sponsorship programs Sharp already has in place with eight teams including the New York Yankees and Mets, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels.