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What it Takes to be the Sports Bar of the Future

A major national sports-themed operator did a guest survey several years ago and found the number one reason guests visit their establishments is to watch sports. Shocking, huh?

It stands to reason that if guests are expressing their desire to enjoy great content at your place, you should deliver it in the most efficient and highest quality ways possible.

But there’s a rub. What defines a great sports-watching experience has changed dramatically over the past few years. Guests want to view games on-demand, check their own fantasy results, see a wider variety of content, and expect you to keep them informed about what they can see at your place.

This is why, we have identified four areas that you can address right now to ensure your sports bar remains a great place to watch games well into the future.

Update Your AV Systems

Now is the time to overhaul your Audio Visual systems. Consumer electronics have never been less expensive. From 55” flat screens for $400 to incredibly tiny speakers that will rock the house, access to great components and forward thinking technologies is easier than ever. While this isn’t the place for a full discussion of AV, it is the place to realize now is the time to upgrade. Having the flexibility of a high quality switching device or matrix system gives you room to grow how (and where) you deliver content to guests.

Any integrated system should include the following elements: Signal deployment to any TV, integrated PA microphone, space for expansion of sources like internet streams or recorded content, a balanced sound system (heat map tested) to ensure every inch of your joint has a great AV experience. You will also want to work hard to determine zones for sound. These factors coupled with a tablet based remote and you’re ready for whatever new technologies arrive and can integrate them seamlessly.

Embrace Streaming Video

Have you heard? The NFL’s TV ratings are down 19% so far this year. We are finally seeing the effect of streaming video in a real way. Consumers want to watch content of their choice (including sports) when they are good and ready. With so many folks cutting the cord and consuming their formatted TV content on platforms like Netflix or Amazon, you have to be ready to deliver the same experience.

Look at the experiments that the NFL has undertaken with Thursday Night Football on Twitter this season and a game, wholly televised, on Yahoo last season. Even the folks on Park Ave can see the writing on the wall.

Did you know that the Ohio State OT victory over Michigan was watched online by more than 1.3 million people? That is a world record of sorts and the highest watched live sporting event on stream EVER. Couple that with the fact it was on the regular ABC network feed and it’s even more impressive that folks opted to watch the stream. While some might see this as a threat to sports bar viewing — we don’t. By embracing streaming content and educating your guests that you have it available, you are further proving to them that they can count on you to give them what they want.

Secure Kick-Ass Wifi

Guests want is a solid wifi connection! Too many of you have shortchanged your efforts here. You go with the path of least resistance rather than investing in a fast and secure solution. Did you know you can have more than one wifi connection in your building? It makes sense to have your internal wifi separated from the service you provide guests.

The obvious reason is security, but equally as valuable is that your needs won’t compete with the guests’. Installing a separate and high capacity router is a one-time expense that gives guests access to strong dependable Internet service while visiting your location. Guests have indicated how important this is time and again. However, the hidden secret is that you can require they give you an email address to access your wifi. You will be blown away how quickly this will build your internal email list and create an amazing marketing channel.

As far as the future is concerned, you can allow guests to BYOC (bring your own content). Facilitating access to the internet, without speed or time limits, will encourage guests to bring their own content to enjoy your amenities. Imagine a dining room full and guests watching not only your great AV system, but enjoying their own content in your building. Good news is you don’t have to imagine because it’s already happening,

Get Social Media Right

What does your social media have to do with being a great sports bar?

To start, all the other items on this list are about technology. Therefore, it seems appropriate to project how you will market in the future. As we discussed from the beginning, guests are coming to you because your bar is a great place to watch sports. Social media has a very important role in improving that experience.

Because it’s so simple to reach people via various platforms, it has become far more efficient task to inform them about what’s happening at your restaurant. By using social to publish your featured games you are meeting the guest where they are with the info they want. Use your social presence to hype games you believe will have appeal, inform guests that you can deliver obscure content and get their feedback as what they are tracking. Consider social to be your own.

By | 2017-08-23T09:30:20+00:00 December 8th, 2016|Sports Bar Management, Sports Bar Technology|0 Comments

About the Author:

Andrew is an accomplished and respected restaurant industry professional with more than 26 years of experience focusing on many aspects of small business management, ranging from human resources to marketing, operations and accounting. Prior to the SportsTV Guide, Andrew managed and owned a variety of concepts from quick service to fine dining, and spent the first 20 years of his career as a restaurant operator.

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