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Enhancing Sport in Pubs with Entertainment & Technology

Enhancing Sport in Pubs with Entertainment & Technology
Written by

Shaun Potter


August 25, 2020


Music +

For many pubs, sport has long been an integral part of their offering to customers.

The promise of a high-quality picture, immersive audio and crowd camaraderie to create an authentic match atmosphere, along with a tasty pint or three is what tempts punters away from their homes and into their local to watch a match.

And it can be hugely profitable to pubs and bars if they get the experience right. The average pub is said to enjoy sales over £30k from broadcasting live Premier League games alone.*

While the primary goal for operators is to get customers through the door on match days, the challenge is often persuading them to arrive earlier and stay on after the final whistle - particularly those not on the winning team, where there’s no celebration to be had. 

But by broadening the shoulders of the match day experience with additional entertainment, pubs can extend dwell-time, create additional revenue opportunities and gain a competitive edge, building an atmosphere sports fans just can’t replicate in their homes.

How has COVID impacted this?

In a post-lockdown world, COVID-19 uncertainties and restrictions mean that many people are still wary of visiting pubs. In fact, just 35.8% of people said they’d visited a pub since lockdown in our recent consumer research, with just 13.3% of them saying they will go as frequently as they did before.

But footfall is rising week on week, and the challenges only further increase the importance for pubs, restaurants, bars and the like to ensure they’re offering a compelling, memorable experience to customers. Though there are still restrictions on loud music, dancing and even how loudly people can talk, the opportunity to optimise live sport fixtures to the pub’s commercial benefit remains.

Getting interactive

With the sense of community and connection sports like football inspire, it’s no surprise that having the ability to interact with matches is hugely popular with fans. A big opportunity therefore lies for pubs to give a taste of this in their venues to achieve the wider objectives of extending the match day experience.

A perfect example of this interactive entertainment is the ‘Predictor’ game our team of tech experts built for Greene King this year. Integrating with Greene King’s popular Season Ticket app, Predictor allows customers to engage further with the match and compete for instantly redeemable prizes by predicting the outcome of a series of events, such as the first player to score a goal, and how many yellow cards will be issued.

Phones showing the Predictor app
A snapshot of Predictor

Played entirely through a smartphone, the game was already designed with consumer demands for technology in mind - easy access through the app, simple but entertaining format, and the opportunity to enjoy a free pint at players’ fingertips. But with the pandemic impacting the level of freedom and movement allowed in a public space, digital games like Predictor have become an ideal, contact-free route to engagement in the post-COVID pub.

Over a 10-week period, Predictor has been enhancing football games in 900 Greene King venues, and has proved to be a huge hit. We’ve seen over 900,000 predictions made and over 100,000 prizes won (approx. 5,000 free pints) from over 20,000 unique players. The game has proved hugely popular with football fans, building an extra layer of competition and helping to retain interest throughout the whole match whilst players wait in anticipation to see if their prediction is correct.

This is a good example of the many innovations available to pubs in 2020 that still remain highly relevant, and with the additional secondary benefits of growing overall app usage, strengthening the Greene King community and building connection with the brand, such technology has a clear business case.

Investing in the digital pub experience

It’s not just Greene King investing in a superior digital experience for their customers. More and more pub companies are turning to technology to not only improve their online presence and internal operations, but to harness a modern-day approach to entertainment. If anything, it seems that the global pandemic has sped up innovation and adoption in this area.

Heineken, for example, recently discussed the importance of pubs delivering a unique experience, sharing their views on how “Outlets are shying away from traditional activations in favour of more memorable, bespoke activities.”

Alongside changes in layouts, cleaning regimes, staff schedules and so on, prioritising entertainment that’s safe but still highly enjoyable for customers will give hospitality venues the best chance of bouncing back. Especially considering statistics such as our recent findings that nearly half of pub-goers find the pub atmosphere less relaxing than before lockdown.

Having sport back will continue to give pubs and bars a much-needed boost. And with the new Premier League, Champions League and Euro 2020 taking place over the next year (to name a few), sport-focussed operators can leverage significant sales and marketing opportunities. 

Enhancing match days with COVID-safe entertainment technologies like smartphone games and digital quizzes can add a whole new element of fun and engagement to a customer’s visit, turning a traditionally one-way experience into a fully immersive one.

Creating memorable experiences with technology is what we’re all about at Startle. If you’d like to know more about our music and tech experiences for pubs, or to learn more about how Predictor works, reach out to us at - we’d love to chat!

Enhancing Sport in Pubs with Entertainment & Technology

Shaun Potter

Design Lead at Startle. It's my job to create the outward facing marketing, as well as designing the systems and products our lovely customers use, with a heavy emphasis on user experience. When I’m not designing I like listening to music, practising martial arts and eating ice cream.

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