Coca-Cola Co has sealed a US$500m deal with Viacom's CBS unit and the National Collegiate Athletic Association for sponsorship rights. The tie-up is being as something of a victory for Coke over arch-rival PepsiCo Inc, whose Pepsi brand was a corporate sponsor of NCAA games in the past, but not directly through CBS.

The 11-year deal awards Coca-Cola the marketing and media rights to 87 championship tournaments overseen by the NCAA, including the annual basketball tournament on CBS.

Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports, said Coke had been chosen because of its "extremely aggressive" offer in rights fees and "extremely comprehensive" marketing program. "The NCAA was looking for a company that was going to make college athletics an important part of their plans on a 52-week basis."

McManus said the program's goal was to find corporate partners that could capitalize on wide-ranging marketing alliances with CBS and the NCAA.

"Coca-Cola is the first participant in this exciting new venture," said McManus. "With their long-standing commitments to the highest quality sporting events in the world and the quality of their worldwide branding efforts, the Coca-Cola Co. is the perfect fit to join with CBS and the NCAA as we launch the new corporate champions program."

The deal goes some way to softening the blow of losing the sponsorship rights to the National Football League, the number one television sport, which Pepsi grabbed earlier this year.