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Live sport essential for UK pub and bars

Published:  13 July, 2023

With a summer of sport in full swing and the women's World Cup just around the corner, new research by CGA has revealed the increased spend and dwell times pubs can enjoy when screening live sports.

The dataset, which was compiled in collaboration with Sky Business reveals people who watch live events spend 36% more on eating and drinking out per month than those who do not. 

Two exclusive surveys were conducted for the report comprising 500 responses from nationally representative consumers who watch sports in Britain’s on-trade; plus 112 pub and bar landlords, managers and owners. The surveys were conducted between May and June 2023

Nearly nine in 10 (87%) consumers said they stay out longer than usual when a live game is on, while even more (89%) were more likely to revisit a venue if they knew it would screen sports. 

Live sport also draws larger crowds, with three-quarters (75%) of viewers watching with bigger groups than they would usually socialise with on non-sporting occasions.

The survey also uncovered the sports people watch in pubs and bars. Unsurprisingly, It highlights the huge popularity of football, the most watched sport ahead of rugby union, boxing, cricket and Formula 1.

Whilst international knockout tournaments such as World Cups and European Championships undoubtedly draw in the biggest crowds, the Premier League was consumers’ most followed competition on the whole. This 9-month-long football season commences on Friday 11 August.

From a landlord perspective, four in five (82%) believed some guests would go elsewhere if they stopped screening games. 

Women’s sports are increasingly popular in pubs and bars with half (48%) of venues planning to screen more games over the next few months, chiefly the women’s World Cup.

Social media is also a considerable part of the live sports experience, with punters eager to share their thoughts on the game as the game unfolds. As a result, more than four in five (85%) of those who watch sports in pubs and bars expected free WiFi access, and nearly two-thirds (64%) said a poor connection made them less likely to return.

Sky Sports is Britain’s top provider of live sport. Nine in ten (90%) sports viewers think Sky Sports is the best broadcaster of live events, and a similar proportion (91%) considered it to be the home of the English Premier League.

Andy Dean, CGA by NIQ’s client director, said: “This research confirms the enormous value of live sport to Britain’s pubs, bars and drinks suppliers. These venues give people memorable and communal experiences that simply can’t be replicated at home, especially during major football competitions, and these occasions not only boost spend but improve reputation. With businesses and households alike facing major cost pressures it’s more important than ever to provide compelling reasons to eat and drink out, and investing in live sport is an excellent way to keep people coming through the doors.”

Damian Saunders, MD of Sky Business Hospitality added: “At Sky Business, we’re all about bringing our customers unmissable TV content and connectivity so they can provide the best experience for their customers.

“As we head into a new football season, we wanted to get a barometer of how people value sport and the role it plays, whether they are behind the bar or in front of it.

“There's nothing quite like live sport when it comes to bringing people together. Whether your customers are hardcore sports fans, follow an individual team or player, or just casually watch from time to time, watching live sport in a pub is undiminished and plays a key role in creating a great atmosphere and connecting people from all walks of life.

“By investing in the live sport that really matters, Sky Business helps licensed premises drive more revenue. Sports fans spend more than other pub-goers, they stay longer, and they keep coming back for more.”