Sports bars continue to win, as the NFL season gets into full swing

Sports bars have continued to see significant growth, with this venue type seeing visitation increase the most compared to all other channels versus last year. As the NFL season gets under way, CGA by NielsenIQ examines the opportunities for suppliers and operators within this channel.

Across the first weekend of the NFL season, BeverageTrak data reveals drinking venues in the US On Premise saw an uplift, with growth driven by traffic – up on Sunday by +22%. This uplift was mostly driven by strong performances within Sports bars, with growth of +38% on Sunday versus the average. Growth was largely driven by traffic; however, check value was also slightly positive across both days.


BeverageTrak’s robust sample of chain and independent outlets captures and categorizes all items on a check, representing millions of daily data points, that can be used to better understand Beer and Spirit sales dynamics.


It’s no surprise to see Sports bars excel – with almost half of On Premise consumers typically visiting this venue type, and visitation increasing the most of any channel compared to 2021 – up 18 percentage points versus last year. This popularity is consistent across all age groups, but especially for consumer segments aged under 55 – underlining the versatility of this channel. This channel also proves popular for consumers looking to engage in Sports Betting – a topic which CGA will analyse in an upcoming report which explores On Premise engagement.


While consumers typically visit sports bars for food and drink occasions, rather than just drink-led visits, there’s potential for drinks suppliers to consider how they align their brands with suitable food offerings to drive sales. CGA’s Channel Strategy Report unlocks the wider decision making among consumers in Sports Bars and the different drink offerings that they engage with, helping suppliers better understand how they can influence their path to purchase.


The start of the NFL season has only compounded the popularity of this channel –NFL is a clear favorite with the typical sports bar visitor, with 66% of this consumer segment watching it in this type of venue. In general sports bar visitors opt for beer, making it a key target for beer brands and suppliers, however other categories can also be leveraged – particularly spirits and cocktails- as 53% of Sports bar visitors prefer a range of different brands and drinks giving them an abundance of choices.


Matthew Crompton, regional director – North America, said: “With 3 in 5 consumers enjoying beer in Sports bars, it’s a pivotal channel for beer brands, and while domestic beer should be at the forefront of sales, other categories can be leveraged – such as spirits, cocktails and soft drinks. With this venue type popular with a range of age groups, understanding the customer type where these categories over-index are crucial for maximising engagement. Our Channel Strategy study provides insights for 11 unique On Premise channels, including Sports bars, providing the insights and clarity for suppliers on opportunities for their brand and category, and how they need to tailor their tactics to win in this space.”


To learn more about CGA by NielsenIQ’s Channel Strategy report, and its insights into Arenas/Stadiums, Sports bars, Casual Dining Chains, Fine Dining, Experiential Bars and more, contact Matthew Crompton at

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