While serving good food and beverages and providing quality service are the cornerstones of any good restaurant or bar, consumers crave unique experiences.

UFC CEO and President Dana White has always said that if you aren’t sitting inside a packed arena, the next best atmosphere to watch a fight is at a bar. That’s true of all live sports. The chance to watch your favorite teams surrounded by people who are as big of fans as you are is one of the best aspects of being a sports fan.

Growing up, my father—and Founder of Joe Hand Promotions—was incredibly passionate about all sports, but particularly boxing. He started out in the sports world as manager for legendary heavyweight champion, Joe Frazier, and the two later became business partners. During this time, cable and satellite television had little reach in homes, meaning there were few matches available on broadcast TV. Fans would spend countless hours traveling to see their favorite boxers square up, either in person or at arenas with giant projection screens that my father would set up.

Nowadays, in the ever-evolving television landscape with more sports moving behind paywalls on various services, bar and restaurant owners are at a disadvantage and are losing out on incremental sales to other establishments who have easy access to these games.

Tens of millions of consumers watch live sports out-of-home (OOH) on a monthly basis, with bars and restaurants seeing a 21 percent increase in food and beverage sales for high-profile sports events compared to normal, according to a recent research report.

By providing access to exclusive games and premium events that consumers traditionally can only access by paying for at home—from boxing and MMA matches, to college football and basketball games and more—bar and restaurant owners have an enormous opportunity to grow revenues and market share by targeting consumers wishing to watch live sports featuring their favorite sport, superstar or alma mater. The result? An operator’s dream scenario: increased traffic, revenues and an enhanced hospitality experience that consumers can’t find everywhere.

Tapping into a New Revenue Stream and Driving Incremental Sales

Live sports often attract some of the highest TV audiences in the United States, with 42 percent of fans that enjoy watching sports on TV, watching it two to six days per week, according to the same study.

Out-of-home live sports service providers like Joe Hand Promotions provide an affordable opportunity for bar and restaurant owners to tap into a new revenue stream, one that is fast to generate its return on investment. Whether you choose to offer free access to these live events, or charge a small cover to offset the cost, OOH entertainment opens up additional possibilities for driving sales.

There is also an opportunity to create promotions around each match or game—from food and drink specials, to discount offers, free giveaways and more—all helping to foster loyalty and repeat customers. Further research from the study shows that 33 percent of surveyed bar and restaurant owners already believe televising high-profile sports events has driven increased customer frequency.

Driving Traffic and Market Share

Bar and restaurant owners need to set themselves up for success as consumers are increasingly more selective on where they spend their discretionary money and time. While serving good food and beverages and providing quality service are the cornerstones of any good restaurant or bar, consumers crave unique experiences.

Here is where offering OOH live sports providers comes into play. Whether it is Jake Paul’s latest million-dollar fight or any upcoming UFC card, there is a huge appetite for live sports in the United States with a built-in market segment looking for ways to watch and engage with fans. By being known as the local establishment that showcases these events, bar and restaurant owners can create a differentiated experience that guests may not be getting down the block.

Providing Better Access with Ease

Leading entertainment distributors make it easy for bar and restaurant owners to access live content on a linear channel from their existing providers, like DIRECTV. Instead of pirating “the big game” or using basic cable or satellite packages that only provide access to a handful of games, third-party distributors like Joe Hand Promotions are a one-stop shop for establishments looking to show live events.

The alternative can come at a huge cost. Businesses that use residential accounts or use a residential cable box to access events, instead of paying for commercial rights, potentially leave themselves open to investigation for commercial piracy and possible legal action.

Purchasing these distribution packages is an investment, but one with a huge potential return. Americans are increasingly choosing alternative options to cable and satellite, even as live professional and college sports have not shown any signs of decline in viewership. OOH viewing is a big potential winner in this shift in consumer behavior, one in which restaurants, sports bars and other commercial establishments may prove wise in embracing. With ESPN+ for Business through Joe Hand Promotions for example, customers have access to about two thousand exclusive games and live events per year, allowing bar and restaurant owners to maximize sports programming choices more than ever before and through one provider.

With sports viewership, the game is definitely changing, and with a smart investment and some creative marketing, local establishments can find themselves right in the middle of the action.

Joseph P. Hand Jr. is the president of Joe Hand Promotions, the global leader in live sports for bars, restaurants, and cinemas, where he is focused on fostering lasting relationships and delivering exceptional experiences for commercial customers, helping them grow their business revenue. For over 35 years, Joe has guided the business to becoming the largest independent distributors of closed-circuit TV and pay-per-view programming in the world.

Expert Takes, Feature