The Big Game: How Americans are Spending on Live TV Events in 2020

Published on October 29, 2020

Nothing brings people together like popular televised sports – and the plethora of crowd-pleasing food options for these big games. Previous research of passionate NFL fans by PredictHQ found 76% said ordering food was part of their NFL plans, with 31% ordering-in most games and 17% ordering-in every game.

This research when quantified amounted to hundreds of millions in additional orders for quick-serve retail, alcohol and food providers for many games. Our live TV events data is proving out this research with leading quick-serve retail companies as we see firsthand the impact of incorporating PredictHQ’s predicted viewership for televised sporting events into models, and the impact this has in driving down error rate.

As the only source of predicted TV viewership, we have been researching how sports catalyze demand for certain industries. Below are the results of a survey of 2,500 American keen sports fans.

Most American families spend more than $30 on food and drinks to enjoy during a standard game

When asked about how often they order a main meal to enjoy with the game, only 4% of respondents never ordered but more than half order most or every game. Well over half purchase snacks for most or every game (78%) and beverages (65%).

But how much they spend per game varies significantly:

  • 8% spend less than $15

  • 27% spend $15 to $30

  • 35% spend $30 to $50

  • 18% spend $50 to $80

  • 8% spend $80 to $100

  • And 5% spend more than $100

We surveyed sports fans on their go-to meals, snacks, and drinks to quantify the available demand per game based on our predicted viewership data. PredictHQ users leverage live TV events to access this information at a county-by-county level so they can manage their inventory, staff and drivers more effectively.

The battle is on between delivery apps plus grocery stores to capture the most demand

We all know anecdotally that sports games drive considerable food and beverage purchasing. Our research confirms the sheer scope of this, and we wanted to dive in and discover which businesses are currently enjoying much of this demand. As consumers embrace ecommerce and ordering via delivery apps at record rates, the competition between apps is fiercer than ever.

The top delivery apps people use to order for sports games (including NFL, NBA, MLB as well as college football and basketball) are:

  1. Doordash: 24%

  2. UberEats: 22%

  3. Grubhub: 20%

  4. Instacart: 10%

  5. Postmates: 8%

So what are people ordering? Our research found:

  • 56% of respondents buy meals for most or every game.

  • When buying meals for the game: 41% buy from grocery stores, 35% via take-out; 10% order directly from a vendor and 14% order via a delivery app such as Doordash or UberEats.

  • 78% of respondents buy snacks for most or every game.

  • When buying snacks: 44% of respondents buy from grocery stores and 37% via apps such as InstaCart and UberEats.

Americans are buying more alcohol online and sports is a major driver of alcohol purchasing

Recent research has found online alcohol sales surged by more than 240% in March this year. Our research found 65% of respondents buy beverages for most or every game, and while the majority are still buying their own ahead of time, a substantial 15% were buying via delivery apps. 

With the ongoing trend of online alcohol purchasing, the popularity of alcohol specialist delivery apps could be set to rise. According to our survey, the most popular were: Instacart,, Drizzly,  Seamless and goPuff.

1 in 2 sports enthusiasts make multiple apparel or fitness purchases per season inspired by sports

Sports impact on retail isn’t just limited to treats to enjoy on the night. Our research also found most American sports fans have made a retail purchase because of sports: 

  • 27% say they often make a purchase inspired/prompted by sport.

  • 27% make a few purchases per season

  • 35% sometimes make a purchase 

  • 11% said they never purchase retail items inspired by sport.

Of these purchases, merchandise and apparel were the most popular: 60% said they had purchased apparel or shoes because of sport, with one in four highlighting fitness apparel of footwear specifically. Other popular purchases were team merchandise (58%) as well as home entertainment purchases (35%).

Why county-by-county predicted viewership matters

Sports driving purchasing decisions is not new information. What is fascinating is the extent, value and frequency of these purchases for standard games. But the especially new information we want to share is that it’s now possible to accurately forecast the predicted viewership of every NFL, NBA, MLB and college football or basketball game down to the county-by-county level with PredictHQ’s live TV events. 

Because most games aren’t nationally broadcasted, the task of pinpointing the impact of sports on sales for quick serve restaurants, food delivery companies as well as CPG providers has been too hard until this new source of demand intelligence. PredictHQ is working with leading fast casual and delivery companies in our private beta of the new feature and identifying improvements to forecasting accuracy opportunities worth hundreds of millions of dollars. This insight enables you to make smarter staffing and inventory decisions – and that’s before you start knowing exactly where to target discount and marketing campaigns to maximize market share.