Summer of Sport

8 top tips on AV setup for sports pubs

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

Getting your pub's AV set-up right is critical to the customer experience
Getting your pub's AV set-up right is critical to the customer experience

Related tags Public house

For sports fans the quality of the in-pub viewing experience is vital, so what’s the best way to set up your audio visual (AV) equipment for big events? The PMA gives you eight top tips.

1. Screen position

Avoid blind spots when choosing screen locations and avoid overcrowding the service area by not placing screens near the bar. Dave Wilson, director at pub AV specialists Dizzyfish​, says: “You should be able to put on a show and maximise sales, rather than just play a game in the background. Make sure customers have a good view; ideal screen height allows a customer to comfortably see with someone standing two feet in front of them.”

2 Turn it up

Sound in the main area of award-winning sports pub the Gardeners Arms, aka the Murderers​, is fed through a PA system, which provides far louder audio than the TV. Owner Philip Cutter says: “Our TVs are predominantly wall-mounted which means that the speaker sound is directed against walls. To remedy this, we purchased sound bars, which are set above the screens,” he says. “Commentary should be heard above customers’ cheers.
Screen position and sound is absolutely vital to sports fans

3. Audio channels

Dizzyfish stresses the importance of staff being able to readily switch audio between a Sky, BT Sport or Freeview box. A source selector can help to achieve this. It allows pubs to remotely select which source plays through the speakers, and at what volume. This also allows new equipment to be plugged in to the sound system remotely, so preparing for events such as a pub quiz, karaoke or live music doesn’t involve tampering with the pub’s audio setup.

4. Sizing it up

“The bigger screen you can get the better,” according to Dizzyfish. “Their pure job is to give maximum viewing potential. An ideal solution is a projector in a central location with two or three 50-inch screens around the blind spots,” Wilson says. Cutter, however, thinks size isn’t everything: “Screens don’t need to be enormous, but do need to be visible. It could be that smaller screens in different positions may be better than one big screen.”

Sky Sports' tips for a great customer experience

  • Make sure you have enough screens for the major events
  • Test your volume — can the commentary be heard from all areas?
  • Can customers see screens from the bar to encourage sales throughout the match?
  • Test TV and sound equipment a few days in advance
  • Make use of online support at

5. Buy rather than rent

It’s almost always better to buy equipment rather than rent, Wilson says. “AV equipment is probably at its best quality and most inexpensive price ever. It would be crazy not to own.” The Gardeners Arms owns most of its equipment and Cutter says it’s been worthwhile. But with growing use of 4K technology, he is planning to lease four expensive screens to maintain his outstanding reputation.

6. Use high-quality cables

Using the correct cables can make a huge difference. Cat6 and coaxial cabling running to each screen allows for wide distribution and better quality images and audio. The Gardeners Arms has 14 HD screens connected to multiple satellite and Freeview boxes with high-quality Cat6 cables.

7. Install an HD matrix

A matrix can allow for multiple sources linked to multiple HD screens. Bar staff can then select which source plays through which screen centrally at the bar without having to change the channel with a remote. “It’s important that your screens have the right quality to show graphics, details and more importantly movement,” Wilson says.

8. Variety is key to success

The Gardeners Arms uses multiple Sky viewing cards to allow the showing of many different sporting events simultaneously. “Zoning allows us to show different matches, keeping our audience engaged without leaving potential customers disappointed, or having to find another venue. Customers know that if it’s on — we’ll show it,” Cutter adds.

Related topics Sport

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