SBS has announced that beer brand VB will sponsor its coverage of the 2009 Ashes Test Series cricket between England and Australia.

The partnership spans the five Ashes Test Series matches taking place between July and August, as well as seven One Day Internationals in September.

“VB has been the beer of the Australian cricket team for the last 16 years and we’re delighted to extend this relationship within the SBS broadcast. This year’s Ashes is such an important and exciting series for both teams and we believe SBS will do an outstanding job in broadcasting it back home in prime time,” explains Paul Donaldson, group marketing manager VB.

SBS director of commercial affairs, Richard Finlayson, believes this it is a fantastic start to the free-to-air station’s Ashes activity and confirmation that SBS is a competitive sports broadcaster.

“We look forward to working with VB to help them fully leverage their partnership,” says Finlayson.

In 2005, the last occasion that SBS broadcast the Ashes, 10 million Australians in the five capital cities, and a further 4.5 million in regional areas, watched the network’s coverage.

Including the One Day Internationals, that reach represented 82% of Australian men aged 25-54, according to figures from SBS. The station’s 2009 coverage will be live and in high definition digital, with 10-minute highlights and a one-hour highlights program.

SBS’s cricket website (www.sbs.com.au/sport) will offer footage, news and additional features.

SBS expects to have keen viewer interest as Australia attempts to retain The Ashes after beating England 5-0 in 2006/7.