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Why Aren’t TV Bars a Thing? (A Business Proposal)

Why Aren’t TV Bars a Thing? (A Business Proposal)

Listen up, bar owners and aspiring entrepreneurs of America. I’ve got your next big idea.

The TV bar.


There’s an infinite number places to drink and watch sports. Bars are always trying to one-up each other with bigger screens, higher definition, a wider variety of games, and the best seating for sporting events. It’s not uncommon to see screen sizes approach 100 inches to make athletes look larger than life. I watched an NFL game last season in a bar on a leather couch with the game projected on a wall – the staff served my beer and wings to me at a coffee table, as if I was in the world’s best man cave. The same bar has personal TV sets in every single booth – customers change the channel themselves.

And even though I’m a sports fan myself, it seems odd to me that we’re only doing one thing will all this technology. WHY is all this set-up applied to only ONE thing – live sports? It’s well established that we as a society like to go out to enjoy a beer and the company of strangers with one common interest – as long as that common interest is athletic competition.

Imagine, if you will, a bar where people go to watch TV. Scripted TV.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place where you could watch the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” in 4K on a giant screen, surrounded by other people wearing Stark or Lannister or Targaryen team shirts?

Wouldn’t you enjoy having a beer while watching “Better Call Saul” in cozy booth with your friends, spending the commercial breaks talking about what Jimmy is going to do next?

Couldn’t you envision a group of “Scandal” fans gathering together to watch the season premiere, with cocktail specials based on the show?

Or – hell – maybe you’re a cord-cutter who just wants to watch “Saved By the Bell” re-runs because you’re meeting friends for a drink and there’s nothing else on.

I’m not a businessman by any means. I majored in English, after all. So I don’t know all the financials you’d need to start a TV bar, but I have a vision. Namely: I really, really love TV, and I know there are other weirdos like me who would like to watch TV in a bar. Just cut me in with like 10% equity, and we’ll all be rich. Here are the things we’d need to work out to make the TV bar a success:

The Name

It seems that every niche business has to have a cute or punny nickname in order to be successful. At least, that’s what “Shark Tank” has made me believe. So here are a few quick brainstormed ideas for a bar where people go to watch TV.

  • “The TV Bar”
  • “HDMI 1” (short for “Have a Drink Media Inn”)
  • “Views and Brews”
  • “Pay Per Brew”
  • “Binge Watch”
  • “PUBlic Access”
  • “The Living Room”
  • “Viewing Party”
  • “Channel 3”
  • Test Bars

The Seating & Scheduling

Using the existing sports bar as a model, seating would be based upon on-screen content. For example, a guest may walk in and ask the host, “Where is ‘Veep’ showing?” – and then, if some jerk left “Madam Secretary” on in one section of the restaurant (no judgment), the screen would need to be changed by the server. That’s fine – servers can be professional and even make TV recommendations (“Oh, you like ‘SNL?’ Well, ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine is on!”).

There are two major challenges, of course. The first is audio. The great thing about sports bars is that you don’t really need to hear your game to appreciate it – watching a running back cross the goal line for a touchdown or seeing an outfielder catch a fly ball works without sound. Plus, the thing sports fans care about most – the score – is always prominently displayed on-screen.

In a TV bar, though, you don’t want someone’s comedy laugh track interrupting a tense moment in the drama three tables over. The remedy: Surround sound speakers in distinct sections of the bar, plenty of soft furniture and sound-treated walls, and sound-treated booths, each with its own small speaker and several sets of headphones.

The second challenge is determining what’s on. During prime TV viewing time – Sunday nights, Sweeps weeks, etc – there may be multiple shows to watch. Bar management would need to pre-arrange sections of the bar based on what’s on. But for some finale nights, might as well go all-in and have themed nights with one channel on all the big screens. Cosplay gets you 10% off your tab at the end of the night. People who want to watch something else are encouraged to take a booth.

The Talking Policy

Customers are asked to be polite, and only carry on normal-volume conversation during commercials, unless ordering another drink (our bartenders use their inside voices).

The TV bar we’re creating would strictly follow the Liz Lemon rules (speaking of which, an annual “30 Rock” viewing party around Ludachristmas time might be cool).

The Location

Alright, pretty much anywhere can be a TV bar. But for success, we’d need to do some market research on a place that would welcome an idea as novel as a TV bar. It should be near a lot of young people who may be cord-cutters. Maybe an up-and-coming neighborhood where commercial real estate (and the rent for yuppies) is still cheap but hipsters are starting to move in. In Los Angeles, that’s the Valley. So here are two bars I’ve sloppily photoshopped to show how much cooler they’d be if they were showing quality scripted TV instead of sports.

If Big Wangs in North Hollywood was a TV bar, full rows of flat screens could bring you into the golden age of television
If Big Wangs in North Hollywood was a TV bar, full rows of flat screens could bring you into the golden age of television
Barney's Beanery in Burbank should be the example: individual TVs in a bar booth are the future
Barney’s Beanery in Burbank should be the example: individual TVs in a bar booth are the future

And if you were to re-named the ESPN Zone and turn it into the HBO Zone, I might never want to leave.

The Promotion

A TV bar offers many opportunities for merchandising, promotion, and themed nights for specific shows. Imagine the potential for niche shows that don’t have a huge following to have its fans meet up together. For example, “Vampire Diaries” might not be the most popular show on the CW anymore, but the bar could use its social media to get fans of the show together for a viewing party. Finally, you’d be able to go out on a Friday night and STILL watch “Comedy Bang Bang” on IFC or “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” on CW – no need to DVR it.

Decorations would be opportunities to market, too. You know how sports bars have signed jerseys and game balls on the wall? This TV bar would have scripts, headshots, and props on the wall. Those mirrors, flags, and other decorations branded with beer and NFL teams could be re-worked, too – Pabst Blue Ribbon Presents: The NBC Thursday Night Lineup!

You’d go to a bar that had this on the wall, right?

 

I have put COUNTLESS minutes of thought into developing this TV bar. And I’m like 72% sure it could be very popular, and almost 10% sure it isn’t already a thing – I looked it up on Yelp. Reach out to me, rich people – let’s make this thing happen.

Shows featured in these renderings:

  • The Americans
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
  • The Last Man on Earth
  • The Leftovers
  • Mr. Robot
  • Scandal
  • The Odd Couple
  • Better Call Saul
  • Veep
  • Girls
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • The Sopranos
  • Silicon Valley
  • The Voice
  • The Blacklist
  • Maya & Marty
  • The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon

 

Admit it – you’d like to be able to watch at least one of those in a bar.

 


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Comments

  1. Mike G

    Amen! I would love a TV bar in my neighborhood. Your comment about Game of Thrones pushed me over the edge and I’m ready to invest. ?…I’ve got 5 on it…

  2. Lee

    My kids and I have been saying the same thing. We realized we’d need to restrict the ages so little kids wouldn’t see GOT or Walking Dead. My son, a cook, declared that we would ban everyone under 25 since they didn’t know how to behave in a restaurant/pub anyway. I think we’d have to let people get a little loud, though. There’s going to be some cheering when they take out Gregor Clegane.

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