Sports Pubs in Battle with “the Sofa” When it Comes to Live Sports Viewing!

The sofa remains the main competition for sports pubs and bars, with 87% of consumers choosing to stay within the comfort of their own home to watch sport.

The new survey, commissioned by Stonegate Pub Company and Molson Coors, explored consumer habits and concerns regarding sports in the on-trade. The findings revealed 38% of British consumers (25.3 million people) watch live sport either at the event or on television. Despite being a sport-loving nation, the study highlighted that the sofa remains the main competitor for pubs and bars, with 87% of consumers choosing to stay within the comfort of their own home to watch sport. All the findings where revealed this week at a roundtable, where experts within the hospitality industry debated emerging trends.

According to 36% of consumers, atmosphere is the most important driver when choosing a venue to watch live sport. 35% of people look for ultra HD screens when making a decision and 38% confirmed value for money is what informs their choices. Almost a third of those surveyed said that the look and layout of the venue would impact their decision (32%), with a quarter (24%) stating the variety of food and drink available is a key factor when choosing a location.

Based on the survey results, with live sport being a huge focus for the business, Stonegate have developed a six-step process to ensure they win the war against the sofa, enhancing the viewing experience and enticing sports fans into their venues to watch the live action. Applied to over 770 venues nationwide, Stonegate Pubs are already seeing huge wins from the new approach.

The process starts with getting the basics right, offering a safe environment, great sports service and the right screen location to avoid obstructed vision, all factors that ranked high in customers’ responses. Pre-booking offers another key opportunity, with 14% of consumers now pre-booking before visiting a venue to watch live sports and 71% of them declaring they would likely return to the venue and pre-book again. Top factors encouraging pre-bookings are guaranteed seats (45%), exclusive drinks deals (44%), meal deals (31%) and table service (21%).

While football remains the number one sport for the on-trade, interest in niche sports has grown exponentially and offers an opportunity for venues to differentiate themselves from other sports sites. 70% of UK consumers stated they follow sports such as NFL American football, NBA Basketball, Darts and Women’s football.

American Sports bars are having an increasing impact on the UK’s bar industry, with social gaming fast becoming a fundamental element of a contemporary on-trade experience. 57% of consumers stated that they’d remain in a venue longer if there was a ‘shuffleboard’, while 44% said the same for ‘table football’.

The release of these findings coincides with the launch of Stonegate’s ‘We Love Sport’ app, which is a one-stop shop for sports fans looking to find the best venues across the UK to watch live sports, whilst earning loyalty rewards for every visit.

Stephen Cooper, Sports Marketing Manager at Stonegate Pub Company, said: “This research has offered true insight into sports in the on-trade and has highlighted numerous ways in which we, as an industry, can improve the experience for customers. Sports lovers want venues to be fan-friendly zones where they can watch live sports with fellow supporters. Our venues have always been synonymous with sport, but this study has informed how we can be even better. One such example is the launch of our brand-new sports app, which highlights nearby venues that show live sport, bringing fans together and building a strong sporting community.”