How to bring in new customers with NBA watch parties

Is this your first time hosting an NBA playoff watch party at your bar? A major sports event like NBA post season offers a chance to put your bar on the map. For customers, finding a good spot to watch their favorite match ups can turn into a headache. Some bars claim to be sports bars, but don’t show the popular games. Others have a great vibe, but the service falters on gameday. Think your bar can do better?

More people are watching basketball now than any other time in recent memory. In 2015, the six-game finals were the most popular televised NBA events since Michael Jordan won his last championship almost 20 years ago. According to ESPN, the 2015 finals averaged almost 20 million viewers, an increase of more than 30 percent over the previous year. Host the upcoming playoff games properly, and watch your tables fill up quickly for future events as well.

The 2016 postseason begins Saturday, April 16. Postseason play determines who continues to the finals, which begin on June 2. All postseason games are televised on ABC, ESPN, NBA TV or TNT. Game times and matchups will be announced as teams are eliminated. You can find updated playoff series info here.

Read these 7 tips to host memorable NBA watch parties. This season could be the chance to get your bar in the local community spotlight.


1. Consider extending hours based on the game schedule. Many of these games begin late in the evening. Depending on your time zone, you can expect to be open later than usual to accommodate the die-hards who will want to stick around until the last second.

Pro tip: If you haven’t already, ask your employees about their availability for the upcoming weeks. Homebase users can store this information in their dashboard, saving time when scheduling shifts around playoff games.

2. Review your FOH and BOH workflows with your managers to train the rest of the team. You’ll want to avoid operational oversights on game days — sticky table tops and cold appetizers are a perfect recipe for negative Yelp reviews.

Pro tip: Train your staff to upsell. Making more from each sale is one of the quickest ways to impact your bottom line. Encourage staff to taste the specials, and promote their favorites to customers.

3. Create a signature drink or appetizer for the playoff series. Naming menu items after popular players is a creative way to differentiate from competitors. The NBA Playoffs will be your last shot to offer specials targeting basketball fans. Gather your top bartenders and come up with a few new drinks. A fruity Splash Brothers cocktail or a hard hitting drink called #MambaOut could make some fond memories your customers will remember, or not.

4. Update all your social media profiles. Customers are going to find your bar on the internet first. What will they want to know? Things like who else goes to your bar, what games will be shown, and how many TV’s you have. Attract more customers by answering these questions in your social profiles with pictures and business info updates. Once playoffs are underway, take some time and get photos or video of the crowd for engaging posts on your social media feeds.

5. Double check your TV’s, cable packages, and satellite signals. Getting customers through your door is only half the battle. You still have to provide a great experience to get repeat customers. Dropped signals mid-game, being blocked from showing the game can quickly turn into negative press for your bar and major embarrassment for you.

6. Consider your crowd when ordering food items from suppliers. A televised NBA game can easily last two and a half hours, so patrons are going to want to munch. You’ll want to serve low cost food items that have high profit margins.

7. Watch your pours. Jiggers or measured pourers can ensure you get the best profit margins for each drink. While the use of jiggers versus a free pour is a debated issue in the bartending industry, it’s up to you to enforce a standard among your bartending team to reduce spillage and offer customers a consistent product.


If you’re a new bar in the neighborhood, the 2016 NBA playoff series could be your opportunity to get your local business in front of your most valuable customers. Keep in mind extended hours, operational training for employees, and creating a memorable experience for the local sport’s crowd to get that recognition your local business needs.

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