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Drive year-round traffic with game-day offerings

Photograph: Shutterstock

Showing sporting events in a bar or restaurant is among the most economical ways to drive traffic throughout the year.

Rather than beckoning customers with costly discounts and drink specials that may or may not earn a return on investment, operators can appeal to a broad range of sports fans with a year-round slate of programming that generates excitement and draws repeat crowds.

With baseball season currently in full swing, operators can bank on fans who love watching games on TV. According to 2018 data from Forbes, Major League Baseball was among the most popular cable programming in almost every major MLB market in 2017. The frequency of baseball games—all 30 teams play a total of 162 games per season—and the excitement of watching them live generates viewership that is often many times higher than other prime time TV shows, the report found.

“The average MLB team generates more viewing on its [regional sports network] than the top 10 primetime shows combined in the same market,” the Forbes report stated, citing research from Fox Sports.

Becoming a destination for sports watching throughout the season sets the stage for the excitement of the playoffs, which take place in the fall for baseball but are just getting underway for the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League. Now is a good time to prepare a party atmosphere for the big games leading up to the championships in those sports.

Last year, the NBA Conference Finals games, in which the Cleveland Cavaliers played the Boston Celtics and the Houston Rockets played the Golden State Warriors, drew an average of more than 9 million viewers, up 40% over the preceding year, according to a Forbes magazine report.

Hockey also commands strong viewership, especially for big games. This year’s NHL All-Star Game, for example, posted an impressive 1.29 overnight viewership rating, the third highest for an NHL All-Star Game since 2004, according to NBC Sports.

The playoffs in any sport create opportunities for restaurant and bars that broadcast the games. Operators can host special viewing events, post stat and bracket sheets and decorate the bar and/or dining area with team paraphernalia. Social media is also a great way to promote viewing of these games, as consumers are increasingly checking in via their smartphones for game schedules and score updates.

Operators might consider adding schedule updates, scores and game summaries to their own social media feeds to reinforce their connection to the games.

Football, it should be noted, remains Americans’ favorite viewing pastime, according to a 2018 Gallup poll. Of those polled, 37% cited football as their favorite sport to watch, followed by basketball and then baseball.

With a regular lineup of Thursday Night Football games throughout the season, in addition to the always-popular Monday Night Football games and the full schedule of games throughout the day on Sundays, customers have more options than ever to watch football at their local restaurant and bar.

Carrying a full lineup of sports throughout the year is an open invitation to consumers who are increasingly interested in sharing the excitement with their friends over good food and drinks and watching the action live.

This post is sponsored by DIRECTV for BUSINESS℠

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