Sports Trends in UK Pubs: Introduction
By Izzy Hoppe
January 15, 2016

Over the past few months, we've been quietly compiling research into key trends and opportunities around sport in the UK pub industry. Through a combination of publican feedback, sports fan survey, and online data, we've tried to tackle questions such as whether it provides a return on investment, what the fastest growing sports are, and what the relative merits of Sky and BT are. Over the next five weeks, we'll be releasing the key findings in a series of articles, in order to help you understand how sport can work better in your business. To kick off, however, we thought we'd look at some of the key themes and let you know what's on the way.

Is it worth it?


The rising cost of commercial subscriptions in recent years has forced pub and bar operators to seriously consider the value of sport to their businesses. It costs pubs around £63 a day to deliver a comprehensive sports package to customers, so the pressure for content to deliver a clear return on investment has become more important than ever. As a result, many operators are moving away from sport. Yet, the number of pubs and bars bringing sport into their business is also high. Why?



It’s clear that sport does pay when executed well. MatchPint’s dwell time data shows that sports fans spend twice as long in the pub than other visitors while – contrary to some observers’ expectations – the spend per head is actually slightly higher than during an average pub visit.


Not maximising value


Also clear, however, is that pubs are not maximising the return on investment available to them through sport. The relationships MatchPint has with more than 2,000 pubs, 270,000 monthly users, and many of the industry’s biggest drinks brands, puts us in a great position to identify trends and opportunities. Having analysed the survey responses from 1,321 pub-going sports fans and 595 sports pubs, as well as looking at the data trends surrounding more than 14 million searches for pubs showing sports matches on MatchPint since 2012, it is obvious that pubs can do more. This report highlights some historical trends, but also looks at what opportunities remain:


1. There are a huge number of sports fans looking for content beyond football but who aren’t being sufficiently serviced by pubs. Of these sports, Formula 1 and NFL are those growing at the quickest rate. Letting local customers know that these sports are available is a major opportunity.


2. Major sports events remain popular in pubs, regardless of whether they are readily available in the home, or not. Creating an environment that is superior to the home is essential.


3. Tactical drinks promotions are a great way of encouraging people out of the home and driving increased rate of sale.


4. Pay-per-view content is being under utilised.


5. Sky Sports content accounts for more pub searches than BT Sport, but BT Sport content is more likely to draw first-time (or less regular) visitors.


Our report will take a look at these trends and opportunities in more detail and suggests that, when a full range of content is shown, and the in pub activation is strong, there are no shortage of sports fans ready to enter the pub. In our opinion, 2015-16 is the year, to maximise the return on sport.


For part one of our new report, click here.