After two years of no, or limited access to venues, sport-loving Aussies have come out to support their locals in a big way, and have been enjoying the chance to watch the big matches communally.

“It was great to see an uninterrupted year where venues could get back to pre-Covid trading levels and also good to see people back in the city centres and heading to their local venues,” states Greg Bohlsen, National Licensed Venues Manager at Foxtel Business.

Growth opportunities

2022 was a big year for sport as the world returned to some normalcy, and the local codes once more proved popular in-venue. AFL and NRL remain the most popular sports but cricket has also been getting some great traction within pubs. Other sports have also been growing in popularity, with the homegrown NBL league enjoying a bump in viewing, and with the American NBA gaining traction for hotels as a lunchtime drawcard.

“Women’s sport is also on the up with a lot of support for both women’s NRL and AFL. Women’s cricket is also becoming much more popular with stars like Alyssa Healy setting cricketing records and commentating on Big Bash Live,” states Bohlsen.

A big addition to the Foxtel Business subscription offer that has been welcomed by publicans is a new 24/7 WWE channel.

“[It’s] great news for venues as it’s great content to have on during the day, and also contains live events such as Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania that were previously only available via pay-per-view,now included as part of a venue’s subscription,” explains Bohlsen.

Foxtel has also extended its partnership with No Limit Boxing which will see No Limit fighters’ bouts shown exclusively on Foxtel, including rising star and brother of Tim, Nikita Tszyu; Olympic medal winner and Australian Lightweight Champion, Harry Garside; Former Olympian Paulo Aokuso; along with world rated prospects Liam Wilson and Sam Goodman. Foxtel will be the home of boxing with live events across Main Event pay-per-view and some live events on Fox Sports included as part of a venue’s subscription.

2023’s lineup

This year, Foxtel Business is focused on a smoother experience to launch 4K in venues. This was originally scheduled to take place in 2022, but a change in how 4K sports were distributed delayed the process.

“The fix we’re currently developing for this will mean that it’s a much smoother experience for venues, so we’re even more excited to launch 4K to the industry later this year,” states Bohlsen.

Meanwhile, Foxtel Business has an impressive lineup of sports broadcasting for pubs this year, which kicked off with the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup and the Super Bowl in February. Earlier this month saw the return of the NRL and AFL seasons. Plus Wrestlemania is in early April and will be available on the WWE Channel to venues as part of their subscription.

How to optimise the sports-viewing experience

Bohlsen shares his tips on providing the best live sport showing:

  • Have “sound zones” where possible and an HD viewing experience with the correct aspect ratio so nothing on the screen gets cut off.
  • Promote sporting fixtures on social media and use Venue Finder and promotion apps like FANZO
  • Showing the pre-match build up encourages people to come earlier and promoting food and beverage offers before and after big sporting events encourages people to stay longer.
  • Utilise the breadth of Foxtel’s live sport coverage – ESPN shows the best of US sports for the early afternoon weekday hours that could be used to capture that workday lunch crowd.

This article first ran in Australian Hotelier’s 2023 Annual Industry Leaders Forum.

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