On April 2, the general manager of Woodford Bar on East Washington Street in Athens, Ga., walked into his bar as he does on any other Tuesday evening. Hank Sewell set up the tables and chairs in the social area, made sure the bar area was clean and stocked and, most important, organized his materials for his increasingly popular trivia event, which lately rotates different themes having to do with popular culture, especially television and film.
That night’s trivia theme was “Game of Thrones,” the global television phenomenon. Sewell was met with his largest crowd to date, consisting of close to 40 teams each with five members. He knew then that his trivia nights were going to continue to be a success.Why It’s Newsworthy: Trivia nights have long been successful in the United States, with companies like Pub Quiz distributing close to 2,000 trivia kits to various bars and restaurants this year alone. Now that television and film content is so accessible, bar and restaurant owners are starting to recognize a means of drawing people in on quieter weeknights, bringing the community closer together and most important, driving up sales. Restaurants like the Ice House in Addison, Texas, or the Pub on Pearl in Denver, Colorado, claim that popular culture trivia has contributed to profit increases between 30-50%.
Streaming’s Effect on Trivia Night
Since last summer, Woodford, like dozens of other bars and restaurants around the Athens area, has adopted a weekly trivia night concept based around popular television and film culture in order to give customers a reason to come out and stay out on nights throughout the week.
Sewell says that events like these work to bring in more customers now more than ever.
People, especially young college students, need something to entertain them as well as something they can do with friends. Trivia just happens to be a perfect fit for that bill,” Sewell said.
“I think it has a lot to do with people being passionate in the shows and movies they watch,” Sewell said. “Things that have a cult following, like Game of Thrones or the Office, usually draw really large crowds on trivia nights.”
According to the 2018 CNBC All-American Economic Survey, close to 60% of Americans are consuming their film and television content through some sort of streaming service. This increased accessibility and enthusiasm to stream content has given viewers more opportunity to take a deep dive into their favorite content.
Sewell expects a full crowd now every time his themes are centered around television or film, and now other establishments in downtown Athens have picked up on that model.
“We started to have people from Dirty South [trivia company] come by every Tuesday since last September,” Madeline Ansley, hostess at Amici Athens on East Clayton Street says. “People get a sense of pride when they win trivia night especially when it’s a theme they are passionate about.”
Ansley adds that even if people do not choose to visit them for trivia nights, she still urges others to venture out and give trivia a try elsewhere downtown for the experience.
“It sounds cliche, but [trivia night] really does bring people together,” Ansley says. “If you’re gonna’ go out to eat anyways, you might as well win prizes and compete while you do.”
The Future of Trivia Night
There has even been a recent increase in new trivia platforms in response to technological innovation. Early last year, “It’s Quiz Time” launched, giving Twitch and Youtube users a medium to run their own live trivia contests at any time with anyone around the globe.
“Trivia is pretty universal,” Sewell says, “but I think that people value the experience of doing it in person.”
As more establishments have started to realize the advantages of hosting trivia events in communities like Athens, there has been an increase in options for potential customers.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if more places add [trivia events],” Sewell says. “We certainly weren’t the first to implement it in Athens, and we certainly will not be the last.”
Jason Levenstiem is a fourth-year journalism major at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.