MTV is embarking on its first global tour sponsorship, for the spring outing by Britney Spears, Billboard.biz has learned. The MTV Presents Britney Spears Onyx Hotel Tour 2004 begins March 2 at the Sa

MTV is embarking on its first global tour sponsorship, for the spring outing by Britney Spears, Billboard.biz has learned.

The MTV Presents Britney Spears Onyx Hotel Tour 2004 begins March 2 at the San Diego Sports Arena and will play more than 25 cities in North America before visiting Europe, Latin America, and Asia. MTV's sponsorship will include on-air, online, and on-stage components to support Spears as she tours in support of "In the Zone" (Jive).

"There are not that many artists that appeal to every territory with an MTV channel, but Britney Spears is one of the select few," says Joe Armenia, VP of music marketing and promotion for MTV. "We have been waiting for the opportunity to make a global splash, and the Britney tour is it."

As part of the all-media sponsorship, MTV will be featured in all advertising and tickets for the tour; there will also be on-site interactive promotions and venue signage. MTV will air spots for the tour on its networks worldwide, and in the U.S., three episodes of "Total Request Live" will be dedicated to behind-the-scenes coverage. MTV.com will feature exclusive downloads and streaming video, as well as ticket and merchandise auctions benefitting the Britney Spears Foundation.

"For the better part of the rest of the year, we'll be on the road with Britney," says Armenia. "This is more support than we've ever given an artist in the U.S., let alone all over the world."

Why Spears? "We love the association with Britney," he says. "She has always been a core part of this channel ... and our fans love Britney."