While many people believe the best time of the year for sports is football season, but I respectfully disagree. In fact, the best time of the year for sports starts with January and runs hard right until early June. This six month stretch of sports is a seven day a week affair with great games every day of the week. The challenge for operators is finding ways to leverage all that content to drive traffic.
In terms of sports content, January has it all. It all boots off on New Year’s Day with multiple bowl games that lead to the National Championship. If NFL football is your best sport, you get two weeks of Saturday and Sunday NFL Playoffs, followed by three more Sundays with the Conference Championship, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl LIII. But this month is hardly defined by just football.
Both the NBA and NCAA Basketball have busy schedules in January. The NCAA gets rolling with conference play and the NBA has nationally televised games 3 to 4 times a week. By late January, you’ll already be entertaining thoughts of March Madness as the games get more important each week. Basketball owns a big chunk of the month, but hockey is also very much cranking as well.
The NHL is nationally televised as much as the NBA and they host their All-Star game in January. That coupled with the Skills competition are great opportunities to market to a specific event. Other sports like tennis’s Australian Open and international soccer stay strong all month as well. So, check out this month’s calendars for something to focus on as you market the month and have a great run.
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The final month of the year is also among the busiest in the entire sports season. December is the confluence of NCAA Football Bowl games & NCAA Hoops schedule in earnest with packed NHL and NBA slates. This is all topped off with the conclusion of the NFL season. It’s just plain busy. Couple that with a great stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day of high volume and it might be the best month of the year.
The seasonal ritual that is the NCAA Football Bowl schedule is a tale of two truths. On the one hand, there are just so many of them — many obscure — that most people don’t even pay attention to them… except that they do. These games continue to be played and televised because guests enjoy the various matchups and the extension of the NCAA Football season. This is a great opportunity to do a card or “Pick ‘Em” game. These are simple promos that require very little work to execute, but they will reward guests for engaging and frequency — both good things for your marketing.
As the NCAA season winds down to its conclusion in December and early January, the NFL finally determines who will continue on in the playoffs. December has five Sundays of action and with this season’s parity, there will be a lot of teams vying for playoffs spot as the month progresses. This is inherently great and will help mitigate some of those weird soft weekends we experience as people are attending holiday parties or are out shopping for gifts.
It’s a perfect setting — just as the NCAA Playoffs end the real action in the NFL begins. This is different than the NCAA Basketball schedule which finds itself in their playoffs weeks after the NCAA has completed its season.
But don’t worry. If football isn’t your thing, there are plenty of programming options available in December. In pro sports, both the NHL and NBA are in full swing. The NBA in particular declares their season is de facto underway on Christmas Day with a full card of nationally televised games that run the entire day. The NHL, for their part, begins their nationally televised scheduled with NBC starting the first week in January. Both leagues are hard at work and offering guests games to enjoy while visiting your restaurant.
December is truly a peak month. Folks are out an about & spending happily and your restaurant can and should benefit from this annual upswing in joy and generosity. Be the place where people want to gather and recharge from their holiday activities. All this sports action will certainly provide the content guests want to enjoy and it’s a key opportunity to communicate with them. Leverage this high volume period to deliver your marketing messages for the upcoming slow period of January and February. The more folks you can connect to your marketing the greater the success your marketing will have.