Unless this is the view from your pub, get a TV.

Unless this is the view from your pub, get a TV.

On a recent trip to the U.S. (from Australia) visiting Portland and Hawaii, we went to quite a few breweries and bars and there was one common theme throughout most of them: a TV behind the bar playing sports.

No, these weren’t sports bars. There was just an unassuming television playing baseball, or football, sometimes basketball. The TV was always on silent and wasn’t there as a feature. It simply was.

Regardless of the calibre of the bar (although we didn’t attend any super high class bars), there was always a TV. Bars that were better designed managed place have the TV in a more tasteful way, but still it was there providing patrons with something to look at.

Most bars in Australia (that I go to at least) don’t have the TV behind the bar, or a TV anywhere in sight for that matter. Some bars may have a projection or a TV playing an old film just to add some interest, but it’s more part of the decoration than something to sit and look at. If a bar or pub (or restaurant for that matter) has a TV, and especially if that TV is playing sports, it’s generally not the type of bar that’s going to be serving a decent craft beer.

I’m all for a television behind the bar, especially as a tourist in a new city.

While most of the bar adventures were with others, occasionally I ventured out on my own, whether it be because I wanted to or others needed a break from the constant beer-cation, and I found the TV was great for a few reasons:

  • It provided something to do.
  • It encourages other weary travelers to stop in for a quick drink.
  • Reading a book makes people lower their head, so they’re closed off to possible social interaction.
  • A sports game gives people something to comment on, encouraging social interaction.

Now, just because the pub has a television does not mean it needs to be watched, and patrons are more than able to choose whether or not they’re going to be watching it. As long as the pub isn’t inherently sports themed, most punters are going to ignore the TV anyway. But the TV gives something to many other drinkers while not taking away from others.

In this world where we always have our heads down, in a book, a computer, a tablet, or a phone, it’s surprising that a television of all things actually encourages people to look up and interact with each other! But it does that.

When you arrive early to meet your friends, what do you do? Stare at your phone. With a TV, you may strike up a conversation with new people, make new friends, and have a great night out.

When your date goes to use the toilet, what do you do? Stare at your phone. With a TV, you may see someone better than your current date and meet your soul mate.

A simple television can provide this.

From a publicans point of view, this is also great. Nobody wants to walk into a pub and see people sitting by themselves looking down. A television helps bars do what they’re supposed to do: get them together socialising.

OK, at this point, I’m probably pushing some of this, but TV’s in bars and pubs are a good thing. Of course the publican needs to design things so this TV isn’t a feature of said bar/pub, but just something for those who may be alone.

And we’re all going to be alone at a bar at some point for some reason.