7 Crucial Tips For Using TV Screens In Bars And Restaurants

boring screens at plain bar
Are you using your TV screens to their fullest potential?

You might think flipping the channel to the news or ESPN is all you need to make patrons happy—but is that the right vibe for your venue?

Today we’re going to run through 7 crucial tips to help you use screens at your bar or restaurant to their fullest potential.

Let’s get to it!

1. Create the perfect atmosphere

Nailing down the vibe of your venue is crucial to your brand. Every choice, from dishware to music and lighting, tells your story to your customers. Each of these factors contributes to the ambiance you’re creating.

The TV screens, of course, are no exception.

And don’t get me wrong, sports are a great choice…for sports bars. And in other locations, it may very well suit the expectations of your guests. But creating your venue’s own, unique character takes the experience one step further. An awesome vibe can exceed your guests’ expectations—leaving them with a lasting memory.

Instead of walking into the same ol’ place everyone’s seen a hundred times, give your customers something different. Try music videos, visualizers, digital signage, pics that tell your story—whatever you can come up with to be entirely you.

The point is to shape an atmosphere that gets people’s attention. They will remember their experience and talk about your place if it really blows them away.

2. Find the right height

Getting that sweet spot location for your screens can be tough, but it’s very important. You don’t want people craning their necks too hard to catch a glimpse.

The Cabaret Design Group—an international nightclub and bar design company—says “the goal is to set the height of the TV so the people closest will see the middle 10”. By the same standards, the forward viewing angle of the patron is 30-35°.”

Check out this example layout they’ve provided:

graphic of optimal tv layout

Cabaret Design Group 

It’s also important to tilt the screens a bit, about 5-8 degrees, since some flat screens lose quality if they’re not viewed directly.

Keep those things in mind and everything should be pretty comfy.

3. Try some televised event nights

Sports play a big part in this one. Pay-per-view events, Super Bowls, World Series—that’s all pretty obvious.

But there are more TV events that bars and restaurants can take advantage of!

Award shows like the Grammys, Emmys, Golden Globes, or the Academy Awards are an easy way to make a special night. Give your patrons the red-carpet treatment and make ’em feel like stars!


Another idea that’s often overlooked is television show finales. Reality shows like Survivor, The Bachelor, Big Brother, and other competition shows bring a spirit of rivalry and high-stakes that people love to watch in crowds. You can even pump it up by showing some of the final episodes each week leading up to the last one. They all end with some kind of cliff hanger, so the incentive to come back is built right in there for you already! 

4. Experiment with different displays on different screens

It’s also worth considering different uses for your TVs’ various locations. Maybe a few by the bar are playing the game, but you can also have entirely separate screens advertising your social media or drink specials beside each one. Perhaps only the TVs by the bar are playing sports and your dining room screens are playing music videos or visualizers that sync to your background music.

Many restaurants have pretty clear divisions. In a sense, let the bar be the bar—but people who opt to use your dining room probably want something more intimate or at the very least an atmosphere that doesn't scream "bar!" So, give it a different, more relaxed vibe that encourages people to stay for a while and spend more by immersing them in good music and stimulating visuals.

There’s always room to play around and find what works best for the vibe you’re trying to set.


5. Think of it as more than “just TV”

Of course, network television is far from the only option out there.

With the variety of digital signage options available these days, there are a ton of different ways to put your screens to work for you.

The tricky part, however, is getting people to actually look at the screens.

Tossing on something with a bit more visual flare will have people consistently checking out your screens, rather than glancing up every now and again to see the score of the game or whatever.

Bar with screens playing Ariana Grande

At this point, you can run a message like a ticker tape at the bottom, or even fade into a full-screen ad for a couple seconds in the middle of the video if you really want to grab ’em!

6. Ad-Block in real life

Nothing is more annoying than loud, obnoxious commercials—especially in a place that offers an escape from our home and work lives. Setting your screens to network television at any volume other than mute opens the doors for these mind-numbing ads to splash into our ears like hot squash in a food fight.

What’s worse is when an ad plays for a competitor of yours! People don’t want to hear about the great deals they could be getting at such-n-such other location. Especially when they’re already seated at your place. “We should’ve gone there,” is a reaction you never want to hear.

You can avoid these entertainment problems completely with an adept audio/visual service for restaurants and bars like Control Play.

7. Use live feeds for customer needs

Okay, so maybe you do want something a bit different.

Say you decide to go with music videos and/or digital signage playing on your screens—what about the people who want to check the score of the game or keep up on current events. How do you make them happy too?

Luckily, it’s not as hard as you might think.

With Control Play, you can integrate RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication) to bring sports, news, weather, social media updates, etc., that can scroll along the bottom of the screen with whatever is playing.

This means that you can have seamless, entertaining videos playing that boost your unique vibe and discourages people from checking their phones for these kinds of updates. If it’s all provided on your screens, they’re much more likely to be engaged with each other and your venue.

We can show you how it works, quickly and easily.
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Kevin Avram

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