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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.

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