MA500

Early morning Rugby World Cup – worth screening?

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Try your best: there is a potential market during the Rugby World Cup
Try your best: there is a potential market during the Rugby World Cup
With the Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan this year, the majority of matches will be televised early in the morning. What are the risks and opportunities for licensees?

Research carried out by MatchPint has shown the opportunities for screening early morning matches in pubs could be fruitful, with consumers saying they’d like to watch games in the pub, according to Dom Collingwood, co-founder MatchPint.

Speaking at an MA500 meeting in Bath this month, Collingwood took a poll of the delegates in the room on whether or not they were going to show Rugby World Cup games this year, with the majority of operators in the room saying they would.

“Teams taking part in the World Cup are all well known, with the likes of England v France as highlight games,” he said. “It’s huge across the country with a recent survey finding that 21m people in the UK are interested in it.”

Extraordinary opportunity

Rugby fans are loyal, he said, but there was also an opportunity to get football fans into the game, with two thirds of them saying they would consider watching the Rugby World Cup this year, possibly over breakfast.

“The Lions Test in 2017 showed extraordinary opportunity for pubs, with lots of people going in. It’s a significant cost to open and screen them, because you have to get the staff in, but it could be a great opportunity,” he said.

For example, beer sales over the three tests were higher throughout the day, including when the pubs screening the matches were open in the morning.

“It’s not just what you’re doing in the two to three hours while the game is on, it’s what you’re doing afterwards. You’ve got a massive head start that you need to and can hold on to,” said Collingwood.

A poll of 500 fans about the upcoming Rugby World Cup showed the majority would want to watch big games and games involving their teams at the pub.

“The stand-out game is New Zealand v South Africa on Saturday 21 September, with both pubs and fans saying they are interested in showing and watching that game,” he added.  

A full food offer

When in the pub, watching the Rugby World Cup, 71% of consumers asked said they expected a full food offer like breakfast, 82% said they expected alcohol, 42% wanted good coffee, 40% wanted table bookings and 65% wanted other matches to be shown.

One third of those who wanted table booking available said they would pay more than £16 to pre-book a table.

“There’s a big expectation from rugby fans that this is going to be a big experiential opportunity,” said Collingwood.

“Make sure that when you get them in, you can benefit from a full day of sales. Have someone in your team, if you’re not into rugby, who will follow the narrative and the reactions on social marketing so you’re part of the conversation.”

At the MA500, Steve Burnett said that in relation to the Rugby World Cup, one of the ''things you will need to consider in relation to licensing, is that fact that we are 8 hours behind the host country Japan, with a majority of the matches taking place in the early hours of the morning in the UK’.

Burnett advised you should consider any restrictions on your Premises Licence which could affect you celebrating the World Cup, such as your opening times, the start time for the sale of alcohol or even restrictions on the use of your outside area.

He added: '‘You may need to try to avoid restrictive conditions, extend your opening hours or the time for the sale of alcohol by lodging a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) with your Local Authority’.

He also stated that one of the ‘potential issues with trading at that time, are that matches are being played early in the morning and issues could result in complaints not only from residents, but also from businesses operating their normal hours.

Complaints could be made to the authorities and this could have a 'knock on effect' if you wish to celebrate other sporting events in the future such as the Football Euros in 2020.

Burnett said: "So consider your dispersal policy. You could have customers having a 'beer' early in the morning, then dispersing after the rugby match to mix with businesses, children and shoppers. Have a look at ways to deal with potential, adverse customer behaviour.

It is not all doom and gloom, but you do need to take a number of things into consideration when planning events around the Rugby World Cup'."

Related topics: Sport

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