Beer Companies Rejoice! Beer and Sports Often Go Hand-in-Hand

BY Kathy Crosett
Featured image for “<strong>Beer Companies Rejoice! Beer and Sports Often Go Hand-in-Hand</strong>”

If you’re working with beer companies, retailers, breweries, or distributors, they might be asking if beer and sports go hand-​in-​hand. In addition, they want to know if advertising during sports programming will deliver a bigger audience and higher sales. So, let’s take a look at what’s been happening with beer advertising and the beer-​loving audience in the U.S.

Beer and Sports Go Together

Sports fans purchase their favorite adult beverage when they get ready to enjoy a game. Beer is the beverage most often consumed, as 76% of sports viewers prefer beer on game day. The amount of spending on their favorite beer depends on the sport. NCAA viewers spend $45.40, while esports fans shell out $71.80.

What is the average alcohol consumption at sporting events? Fans typically knock back 3.7 drinks, with a slight tendency to tipple more at the event, enjoying the festive atmosphere versus being at home. It might sound like binge drinking but remember that these events may last for three or four hours.

Alcohol consumption at these events isn’t the only important statistic to keep in mind. Gathering with friends to watch a game is a massive opportunity for socializing. Unfortunately, given the cost of attending games in person at sports events, only 3% of surveyed fans pack the stadiums to enjoy the live action. 

Nearly 80% either gather with friends and family or enjoy a potluck meal and watch the TV screen, whether it’s in the living room or on an outdoor porch or patio. Another 7% celebrate in the parking lot with a tailgate party, but they don’t always go into the stadium to see the game. In the past year, over 10% of Beer Drinkers traveled to a sporting event that is out of town, according to AudienceSCAN research.

Alcohol at Sporting Events

Sports marketers and retailers can (carefully) target their beer-​drinking fans for the win. The most recent AudienceSCAN study found 24% of Americans enjoy drinking beer weekly.

When it comes to beer drinkers, AudienceSCAN data shows they love watching their favorite sport and spend money on beer per event as follows:

  • Football (52%) — $54.60
  • Baseball (32%) —  $55.50
  • Basketball (25%) — $66.60
  • Hockey (21%) — $56.50

Advertisers can also develop partnerships between beer and beer-​related events. According to AudienceSCAN data, 9.3% of Beer Drinkers usually try to support companies that sponsor their favorite sports teams or athletes.

In 2022, beer brands spent roughly $760 million, a slight decrease from the previous year. In the alcohol beverage industry, about half of the 2,500 companies that bought ads in 2021 didn’t in 2022. However, 800 new entrants bought advertising that year, a reminder that as new products enter the market, they require promotional support to find their place with consumers, especially those who believe sports and beer go together.

For now, TV still rules as the media format marketers are using to reach consumers who enjoy adult beverages, and it snaps up 71% of spending. But digital advertising trends started the year strong in 2023 with a 10% increase in various formats compared to the previous year. Here’s how alcohol ad spending breaks out, according to MediaRadar.

  • TV — 71%
  • Video — 11%
  • Instagram — 4%
  • Facebook — 4%
  • Print — 4%
  • OTT — 3%
  • Display — 1%
  • Others — 2%

With inflation hitting consumers hard, industry experts believe beer marketers will adjust their advertising strategy. Not all brands can count on consumers to drink alcohol at sporting events. Instead, the messaging will show consumers enjoying a meal at home while they drink a beer or two. In addition, some marketers want to develop a personal connection with their biggest fans. They’re using QR codes in messaging to make that happen.

The Power of TV Ads

These viewers might just fork over the extra bucks to get the sports programming they like best. The AudienceSCAN study found 15% of Beer Drinkers plan to pay for sports programming on cable, satellite TV, or the Internet (including MLB TV, NBA TV, NFL Sunday Ticket, WWE Network, PPV events, etc.).

Fans of sports’ current events differ across age groups, with millennial drinkers more likely than those 65+ to be fans of boxing (22% vs. 12%) and soccer (21% vs. 11%), while those 65+ are more likely to be a fan of golf (30% vs. 11% 21–34). Perhaps not surprisingly, males are significantly more likely than women – across all age groups – to be fans of each sport.

60% of the NFL audience is over age 45. On the other hand, nearly 60% of the Pro Soccer fanbase is under the age of 45. Brands of beer companies that want to reach a broader consumer set should also keep gender in mind when they advertise during sporting events. About 44% of tennis fans are women, but they make up only about 32% of boxing fans.

U.S. consumers love their beer and sports. So, your clients can score a big win by developing ad campaigns that promote alcohol at sporting events.