Which sports will boost pub profits in 2019?

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Bumper year: which sports will be 2019's big hitters? (Image: Getty)
Bumper year: which sports will be 2019's big hitters? (Image: Getty)
With pubs facing an uphill struggle in matching sales figures from the 2018 Russia World Cup, The Morning Advertiser asks which emerging sports will help make up the numbers in 2019.

Fixture List – 30 December - 14 January

13 December until 1 January –​ World Darts Championships – Sky Sports

Sunday 30 December

Premier League – Crystal Palace v Chelsea – Sky Sports

Premier League – Southampton v Manchester City – Sky Sports

Premier League – Manchester United v Bournemouth – Sky Sports

NBA – Orlando Magic v Detroit Pistons – Sky Sports

Gallagher Premiership rugby – Bath Rugby v Leicester Tigers – BT Sport

Tuesday 1 January

Premier League – Everton v Leicester City – Sky Sports

EFL Championship – Nottingham Forest v Leeds United – Sky Sports

Premier League – Cardiff City v Tottenham Hotspur – Sky Sports


Wednesday 2 January

Premier League – Newcastle United v Manchester United – Sky Sports


Thursday 3 January – Monday 7 January ​– International cricket - South Africa v Pakistan second test – Sky Sports

Thursday 3 January

Premier League – Manchester City v Liverpool – Sky Sports


Friday 4 January

FA Cup - Tranmere Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur – BT Sport

Gallagher Premiership rugby – Sale Sharks v Saracens – BT Sport


Saturday 5 January

FA Cup – Manchester United v Reading – BT Sport

FA Cup - Solihull Moors or Blackpool v Arsenal – BT Sport

Gallagher Premiership rugby – Leicester Tigers v Gloucester Rugby – BT Sport

Superleague netball – Celtic Dragons v Team Bath – Sky Sports

Superleague netball – Wasps v Loughborough Lightening – Sky Sports

Superleague netball – Severn Stars v London Pulse – Sky Sports

Superleague netball – UWS Sirens v Surrey Storm – Sky Sports

Superleague netball – Manchester Thunder v benecosMavericks – Sky Sports


Sunday 6 January

FA Cup – Woking v Watford – BT Sport

FA Cup - Wrexham or Newport County v Leicester City – BT Sport

Gallagher Premiership rugby – Wasps v Northampton Saints – BT Sport

NBA – Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers – Sky Sports


6 January until 14 January –​ BDO World Darts Championships - Eurosport


Monday 7 January

FA Cup – Wolves v Liverpool – BT Sport


Friday 11 January – Tuesday 15 January -​ International cricket - South Africa v Pakistan third test – Sky Sports


Friday 11 January

EFL Championship – Leeds United v Derby County – Sky Sports


Saturday 12 January

Premier League – West Ham United v Arsenal – Sky Sports

Premier League – Chelsea v Newcastle United – BT Sport


Sunday 13 January

Premier League – Everton v Bournemouth – Sky Sports

Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United – Sky Sports

Quad series netball – England v New Zealand – Sky Sports


Monday 14 January

Premier League – Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Sky Sports

England’s success at the 2018 World Cup was a key factor behind a 4.4% yearon- year increase in beer sales, according to the British Beer & Pub Association’s latest beer barometer data.

However, as FIFA World Cup football only rolls around once every four years, operators that benefited from Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions matching England’s best performance at a World Cup on foreign soil face a challenge to plug the sales gap in the coming year.

American imports

Philip Cutter from the 2018 John Smith’s Great British Pub Awards (GBPA) sport category-nominated Gardeners Arms in Norwich, Norfolk, maintains that while boxing has been resurgent largely due to 

‘the Joshua effect’, stateside sport presents arguably the stand-out opportunities for sport pubs in 2019.

“I guess the biggest growth sport we have seen over the past few years is probably boxing,” he says. “There certainly is a resurgence of interest and pay-per-view events are a real draw for pubs.

“However, I genuinely think that the real interest next year will be a growth in interest in sports from the US, especially baseball and American football (NFL).

“In June, Major League baseball (MLB) comes to the UK for the first time, and there seems to be a massive push to create interest in NFL. I guess, with both these sports, they want to promote UK-based team franchises in the next few years, so I believe there will be a huge growth in the next year, increasing more in years to follow."


Big year for women’s sport

The Women’s World Cup also kicks off on 7 June and there has been a huge growth in interest with the Lionesses’ success over the past couple of years.

Damian Saunders, commercial and strategy director at Sky Business, agrees that 2019 represents a huge opportunity for pubs to make the most of women’s sport, with a host of high-profile tournaments throughout in addition to Phil Neville leading the Lionesses to the World Cup in France.

“The appeal of live sports in pubs and bars continues to grow, meaning more opportunity to drive footfall, revenue and dwell time,” he says.

“Football acts as a main driver for footfall, however, out of the 2.5m people who watch sports in pubs every week, nearly 1m of those are watching sports other than football in an out-of-home venue.

“Next year is going to be an unmissable one for sport generally, but women’s sports look set to be big – including the Six Nations in February and the Women’s Netball World Cup, which takes place over the summer.

“There’s a real opportunity for pubs here with one in four people claiming to watch more women’s sport.”

Attracting younger punters

Saunders adds that the schedule of more niche sports in 2019 offers pub and bar operators a unique chance to attract a younger, and increasingly harder-to-reach, customer base.

“In terms of growing or emerging sports, we believe there are two that offer potential for pubs and bars up and down the land – NFL and NBA.

“We recently conducted some research and of those who we asked about emerging sports viewing in pubs, one in four said it would influence them to spend more time and money and would encourage them to visit the pub more often.

“By offering emerging sports, licensees have the opportunity to attract a different, often younger crowd, such as Millennials.

“What is important for venues who want the make most of emerging sports is that they must think about targeted, focused marketing to promote the offer including on social media, among local sporting groups and – of course – in their venue too.”

‘Big-hitting tournaments’

Paul Dutnall, area operations director at ETM Group – which counts the 2018 John Smiths’ GBPA sport category nominated Greenwood in its portfolio – agrees that a packed sporting schedule in 2019 presents pubs with a huge opportunity to recreate the numbers seen in 2018.

“Next year will be another fantastic one for sport and sports-led pubs in the UK, with big hitting tournaments like the Rugby World Cup, Euro Quali­fiers and the UEFA Nations League finals all to look forward to, alongside one-off spectacles such as the Super Bowl and the various football tournament ­finals,” he says.

“Elsewhere, a stalwart, but perhaps one that has never truly ful­filled its potential, is the Cricket World Cup. With it being held in the UK and running for a good two months, it’s de­finitely one to get behind this year.

“However, it also presents some brilliant opportunities outside of the norm, such as the Women’s World Cup this summer, which promises to be a phenomenal showcase for football and a great chance for operators to get behind this fast-growing segment of the beautiful game.

Super Bowl and more

Like Cutter, Dutnall agrees that the influx of stateside sport presents an opportunity, with ETM’s Greenwood site selling almost 3,000 pints and more than 1,000 burgers during Super Bowl Sunday in 2018.

“On the back of the continued growth of NFL in the UK and our growing fascination with American sports, we’ll also be looking out for the MLB’s London series at the end of June.

“This is a chance to build some excitement around a well-timed weekend to help offset the revenue from this year’s World Cup, and also to lay some solid foundations around a sport that is destined to grow in the UK as the MLB commits to spending more time in our capital and beyond over the coming years.”

The numbers behind a massive year of sport in pubs

Top 10 most searched for sporting events of 2018 on Matchpint.

1 - Joshua v Parker

2 - Joshua v Povetkin

3 - Wilder v Fury

4 - Real Madrid v Liverpool (Champions League Final)

5 - Eubank Jr v Groves

6 - Sweden v England (World Cup Quarter Final)

7 - Bellew v Haye II

8 - Nurmagomedov v McGregor (UFC)

9 - England v New Zealand (Rugby)

10 - England v Croatia (World Cup Semi Final)


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