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How restaurants can score new fans even as sporting venues reopen

Photograph: Shutterstock

Even as pandemic restrictions begin to ease, it’s not back to business as usual for restaurants. Navigating the new normal will require even more pivots, flexibility and innovation. For restaurants that cater to sports fans, this is a prime opportunity to beat traditional sports venues at their own game. How? By turning establishments into sports destinations with exclusive televised programming and augmenting that with what restaurants do best—food, drink and hospitality. Now is the time to strike, because with reduced occupancy limits still in place at most stadiums and arenas, attendees are faced with either paying higher ticket costs or being stuck in nosebleed sections. But restaurants can easily compete by televising digital live sports programming to lure fans with choice seats that place them virtually at the 50-yard line or center court.

More games equal more customers

Of course, a successful in-house sports strategy takes more than just tuning into local TV channels with limited choices that potential customers could easily watch at home. Savvy restaurateurs should team up with an entertainment provider like DIRECTV for BUSINESS. The industry leader in sports entertainment offers sought-after packages such as NFL Sunday Ticket, NHL Center Ice, NBA League Pass, MLB Extra Innings and ESPN College Extra, to name just a few.

For chains, partnering with a specialized entertainment provider helps to create a brand standard across multiple locations. DIRECTV for BUSINESS, for instance, boasts 99% system reliability and a national support team at the ready to help 24/7, plus the ability to adapt to new requirements as the chain expands.

Operators can also get listed in DIRECTV for BUSINESS’s proprietary Sports Bar Finder app, which will reach more consumers and drive traffic. Depending upon the restaurant’s clientele, operators can choose to air international soccer matches, golf tournaments and much more. Ask customers about what they want to watch and tailor programming accordingly. Don’t neglect niche sports, either, as they are often underserved and can pull in loyal new patrons beyond the usual fans.

Generate enthusiasm

Tailgate parties—both pre- and post-game—are a tradition at stadiums, and restaurants can easily duplicate that atmosphere in their own parking lots or outdoor patios. Maximize outdoor space: Fire up the grill, set up the food and drinks station and let the games begin. Install weather-proof TV sets outdoors, too, and cobble together a set of bleachers to enhance the experience.

During games, announce limited-time deals for food or drink items after every touchdown, basket or goal, or offer “happy hour” style promotions for appetizers or buckets of bottled beer. Pre-game, at halftime and after games, organize trivia contests, half-court basketball toss and other competitions to keep fans engaged and eating and drinking. Entice them to stick around for the next sporting event.

Set up a selfie-station, too, with props such as pennants, posters, game balls, jerseys and other memorabilia—and of course, the restaurant logo—so guests can memorialize the occasion and share on social media. 

Think local

It pays to engage with the community. Consider sponsoring a local team, advertising at community sports venues and offering clubs the option to host their meetings at the restaurant. Commemorate local victories and host post-game celebrations. Offer post-victory prizes or discounts to players who show up still wearing their uniforms, as this easily creates a winning vibe.

DIRECTV for BUSINESS also offers the option for operators to access local TV channels, so restaurant patrons can watch home teams play and catch up on local sports news.

Finally, don’t neglect non-sports customers. DIRECTV for BUSINESS offers over 80 channels of commercial-free shows and movies as well as music—be sure to offer programming for those who may not be as big of sports fans.

To learn more about how restaurants can leverage live sports programming, DIRECTV.com.

This post is sponsored by DIRECTV for BUSINESS℠

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