March Madness to Cost Employers $175M

March 8, 2012 ( - The 2012 NCAA basketball tournament will result in millions of hours in lost work productivity, as workers watch games, check scores and manage office pool brackets at work.

According to a survey from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., based on last year’s data, online March Madness coverage could attract more than 2.5 million unique visitors per day, each spending an average of 90 minutes watching games. With private-sector workers earning an average of $23.29 per hour, Challenger estimates that employers will end up paying distracted workers approximately $175 million for the first two full days of the tournament.

Challenger states that a survey by MSN indicates 86% of respondents said they plan to devote at least some time during their work day to follow games, scores and updates, showing a 5% increase from last year (81%).

A more detailed breakdown of the MSN survey data revealed that more than half (56%) plan to dedicate at least one hour of work during the first two days of the tournament to watching games or following scores, with 11% saying they will do the same for at least five hours and 6% saying they take the first two days off.

In the MSN survey, 31% of respondents said they planned to enter at least two betting pools. That is down from 58% who entered two or more pools last year. That may provide some relief for department managers, but the survey shows that 58% still plan to enter at least one pool.

This year’s tournament will begin on Tuesday, March 13 and the 32 second-round games take place on Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16, with games starting at noon Eastern time, right in the middle of the workday.