How Pubs Can Make The Most Of Sports Fixtures

how pubs can make the most of sports events, screening sports
Written by: Pub Partners Team
Date added: Tue, 31/05/2016 - 11:00

Football and other sports fans vote with their feet when it comes to watching sports fixtures. If your pub builds a reputation for showing sport there is a captive audience waiting for the next match and the opportunity to have a few pints with friends at the same time. Whether you’re new to screening sport in your pub, or an old hand, it helps to have a refresher in how to get it right.

Sport is important to many pub businesses. Working out how to benefit from it could add big numbers to your weekly revenue for an important match or for a whole month if it is an international event like the World Cup. Whether you are running a pub already or thinking of running a pub, use these tips on how to maximise revenues around sporting events.

To make the most of every sales opportunity before, during and after sports events, it’s really important to know what your customers want. Here we share key stats from CGA/Carlsberg/CCE Euro’s analysis and our advice for cashing in.

Best Practice For Pubs Screening Live Sport

Before the event…

Make sure your customers (and other local sports fans) know which sports fixtures you’re showing. Correx, poster frames and chalkboards are effective ways to raise awareness by promoting each individual event a couple of days in advance. Your website and social media channels should also be used to let loyal customers know what’s on, and to tell them about any promotional offers on food or drink.

63% of customers want to be able to reserve a table

No one wants to go out with a group of friends to see a match and then find they can’t get a clear view of the screen. So, it’s not only important to site screens where they’re easy to see (and many pubs have more than one), but it’s also important to make sure sports fans get a great welcome. Allowing groups to reserve a table is a good way to ensure that those customers who will put a lot over the bar throughout the evening get a good seat.

70% of customers want more seating with a view

You may need to rearrange your normal furniture layout to accommodate sports fans, a bit of an inconvenience but well worth the hassle. If you can provide your customers with a good view they’ll enjoy themselves more and you’ll avoid having any disgruntled customers complaining they can’t see the screen.

51% of customers want food before the game starts

If someone wants to reserve a table to watch a match, this is the perfect opportunity to get them in early for a meal beforehand. A food promotion is an excellent way to do this, encouraging people to stay longer and spend more. You might want to make eating at your pub a proviso of reserving a table.

During the match…

You’ll need to get your staff up to speed for serving during a screening. 85% of all drink sold at sporting events is lager and so packaged lagers and beers can speed up sales, particularly during half time. Make sure your range is prominently displayed and that staff know how to upsell by suggesting premium alternatives. Don’t forget soft drinks either, especially for midweek fixtures.

77% of customers don’t want to queue at the bar

While a rush at half time is inevitable there are ways to further speed up service by making the payment process quicker. Contactless card readers can be used for sales under £30, and younger customers especially, who increasingly don't carry cash, will welcome this technology. 

64% of customers want you to come out and take drinks orders

You can help pre-empt trips to the bar by taking drinks orders from the table. This can help reduce congestion at the bar and, when restricted to card payments only, can speed up service considerably.

47% of customers want the TV sound to be better

Getting the right technology to screen sport is vital if you want customers to come back for the next match. Directional speakers can help you manage sound, ensuring that everyone who wants to watch the game can hear it too, and those who just want a quiet drink in another area of the pub aren’t unduly disturbed. Brian and Dionne Walford at the Royal Exchange in Haverhill are experts at putting on sport in their pub. Brian says,

‘CCTV cameras let me see what’s happening on my smartphone and I can control sound levels to create the right atmosphere. I could have youngsters in the back bar and older, less excitable people at the front and both groups feel comfortable.’

37% of customers want outside TVs

Don’t forget that many people associate sport with smoking, and may prefer to watch the match at home if they’re likely to miss any action when they nip out for a cigarette. If you want to look after your smoking customers, and attract new customers who want to smoke, outside screens are the answer.

48% of customers want a better atmosphere

All the tips above will create a better atmosphere in your pub, but to go the extra mile you could provide free bar snacks or investigate sports packages such as Screach that can help generate momentum and interest around major sporting events with text-to-win quizzes and TV advertising promoting future events.

After the event…

Before you put your feet up after the match, there’s still work to do.

37% of customers want food after the game ends

While your kitchen might normally have closed by the time the a sports fixture ends it may be worth running a limited menu later into the evening on match nights. Providing an easy food promotion will keep customers in your pub and their business with you - not the chip shop, kebab van or takeaway down the road.

Remember to let customers know what you’re screening next before they leave. Have your new posters or flyers lined up ready to get them out quickly, and that ensure your staff tell people verbally too. Take reservations for the next event on the night, and consider an ‘early bird’ offer on food to make sure your pub is packed.

Follow up on social media sharing photos of the great night your customers had, staff sporting football shirts, food and drink promotions, as well as details of the next sports event.


Not everyone wants to watch sport in a pub and if their local is screening a major event they may be looking for an alternative. If your pub is not planning to screen major events such as the World Cup, the Masters, Wimbledon or Olympics you still have an opportunity to jump on the sports bandwagon! Instead of promoting the event let people know that you offer a sports-free zone, and use this opportunity to reach new customers who are looking to escape from the football, golf and other sports!