Super-sized sporting opportunity for pubs

New research we’ve carried out in partnership with FANZO (formally MatchPint) suggests that 16.1 million UK adults intend to watch at least some of this year’s Men’s FIFA World Cup in a pub or bar and an impressive 8.8 million want to watch a 2022 Women’s Football European Championship game. 

Released end of March, the report, fans are excited to be back watching sport in pubs and bars this year following two years of lockdowns. 2022 offers some massive opportunities for the industry to capitalize on major sporting events.

“2022 promises to be a fantastic year for sport and these numbers speak for themselves, with tens of millions of fans looking to catch all of the action this year. One of the biggest challenges for many pubs and bars is to convince customers to leave the confines of their homes and venture out to the pub. Live sport can be that catalyst. It’s the unique combination of environment and ambiance that makes pubs and bars so special. When you throw live sport into this mix, and ‘big occasion’ live sport for that matter, you really hit the sweet spot.” Blake Gladman, Strategy & Insights Director at KAM 

Publicans recognize the power of sport

The whitepaper includes feedback from both sports fans and pub operators and found that many publicans are backing sports to bring them success in 2022.  64% think showing live sports is profitable to their business. They see more than £11 uplift in average spend per customer while showing major sporting events. Publicans seem to be looking at these sporting events as key pillars of their revenue with more than 2-in-3 publicans saying they have invested in equipment or furniture to make their pub/bar more attractive to customers watching live sport.

Of those that currently show live sports, the majority of publicans believe that the Men’s Premier League will be the most profitable sport, which is testament to the regularity of income that weekly live football can bring – especially as the season is starting to reach its climax. Encouragingly, however, the research shows publicans putting great faith in the benefits of standalone tournaments and ‘big finals’ to bring in the customers including the Men’s Rugby Six Nations and Champions League football finals.

Sport. There’s something about it. What else but a last-minute winner prompts us to spontaneously and simultaneously erupt? We shout at televisions, throw drinks in the air, and wrap arms around strangers with whom we’ve never spoken. The ability of sport to bring people together is unparalleled. And in those moments, there are countless opportunities for pubs. As this new research shows, there are chances to bring fans together and create unforgettable sporting memories every single week. From World Cups and Premier Leagues to Euros and Super Bowls, there are so many memories to be made.  Maximising these major sporting events will mean those memories are created in a pub or bar this year and not forgotten on a sofa at home.” Dom Collingwood, Co-founder, FANZO

Opportunity in women’s sports

With two huge Women’s sporting events coming up and the Women’s 6 Nations in full flow, the research shows there is still a significant opportunity for pubs and bars to take advantage as the numbers of fans steadily increase. An impressive 38% of UK adults intend to watch a Women’s Football European Championship game this summer with 17% wanting to watch in a pub or bar. That’s 8.8 million UK adults looking for a suitable venue (more than the number who watch Wimbledon). However, only 18% of publicans say they do anything, in particular, to encourage customers to watch ‘live’ women’s sporting events in their pub/bars.

Customers and publicans agree as to what makes a great live sports pub ‘great’.  A combination of a quality setup (screens and sound) and being able to generate the atmosphere that sets it apart. Whilst it may be relatively easier to ensure you’re set up is top notch, it can be much harder to manufacturer the elusive ‘atmosphere’ that sports fans crave. But the research shows that if you can deliver on what sports fans want, then the rewards will be significant. Large groups will visit frequently and spend big. Live sport has the power to help UK pubs hit a home run this summer and beyond.

You can access the full ‘Power of Sport’ report and all the latest KAM research via our Access ALL Areas Knowledge Hub.

Blake Gladman

Hi, I'm Blake, Strategy & Insight Director at KAM. I look after all our research products and manage the collection and delivery of insight throughout KAM. I love long runs and good food (the perfect life balance).