March Madness: Billion Dollar Time-Waster or Team-Building Opportunity?
Posted Mar 16, 2010 01:36pm EDT by Peter Gorenstein in Internet, Media
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Arguably the most exciting sports event of the year, March Madness kicks off in earnest Thursday. While 65 teams battle on the court for the NCAA men's basketball championship, millions of workers have already started filling out brackets vying for that office pool bounty.
That fun doesn't come without a price. The first week of the tournament will cost the U.S. economy $1.8 billion in lost productivity, according to annual report released by consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.
Workers waste most of their time, "filling out their brackets, researching their teams and talking around the water cooler, maybe going off to a sports bar to watch the games. And now streaming those videos from their office computers live," John Challenger, CEO of the firm, tells Aaron in the accompanying clip.
Your bosses loss is someone's gain.
CBS has found a new revenue stream, streaming games live to your work computer. CBS has sold out its inventory for March Madness on Demand to the tune of about $37 million in online ad sales, up 20% from the year before, AD Age reports. About 7.5 million people watched the tournament online last year and most of it at work; "92% of the hits occurred off an office computer," Challenger says, citing Nielsen Co. data.
Not all companies will allow workers to follow their teams during the day; some smaller companies ban the practice because it eats up too much bandwidth.
Despite the lost productivity, Challenger believes companies can gain during March Madness. "We think it's a good buy for employers in terms of morale and the trust it builds among its workers," he says, suggesting it's a "marvelous opportunity" for team-building in an era of temporary and remote employees.
And, yes, Challenger is participating in his firm's office pool. In case you're wondering, he has Duke, Kansas, West Virginia and Kansas State going to the Final Four.