Events like the Super Bowl and March Madness – the famed annual productivity-inhibiting NCAA men’s basketball tournament – are not only a marketer’s dream, they’re also another reason for carriers to trumpet the smartphone as the next best screen for video.
Bracket watchers are infamous for not wanting to miss a second of the action. In years past, online streaming of the games has increased, which of course only leads to office workers tuning in via their browsers. Research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates online March Madness coverage could attract more than 2.5 million unique visitors per day, each spending an average of 90 minutes watching games.
“Private-sector workers earning an average of $23.29 per hour, Challenger estimates that employers will end up paying distracted workers about $175 million over the first two full days of the tournament,” the report states.
John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, admits that statisticians, economists, academia and college basketball fans will likely scoff at that estimate, and rightfully so.
“It is to be taken with a grain of salt, as it is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek look at how technology continues to blur the line between our professional and personal lives,” Challenger writes in the report. “Ultimately, March Madness will not even register a blip on the nation’s economic radar and even the smallest company will survive the month without any impact on their bottom line.”
Today kicks off the first full day of the tournament, which runs through April 4. This year, mobile viewing of all the games – broadcast live on TBS, TNT, CBS and TrueTV – can be had via the official NCAA March Madness app for iOS and Android. With an in-app purchase of $3.99, mobile users can stream all the games directly to their smartphones.
Challenger, Gray & Christmas says that mobile engagement will help top even last year’s record-breaking viewing stats. According to statistics released shortly after last year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, March Madness on Demand (as it was still known, at the time) saw a 47 percent increase in total visits during the first three rounds, reaching a whopping 26.7 million visits, during which a total of 10.3 million hours of streaming video was consumed.
Add to the streaming of games, the number of mobile users checking scores, brackets and bets through myriad mobile apps and it becomes apparent the madness of March has finally gone mobile.
Challenger says that the distraction of the tournament is so great, employers might just have to grin and bear it. ““Rather than try to squash employee interest in March Madness, companies could embrace it as a way to build morale and camaraderie,” Challenger suggests. “This could mean putting televisions in the break room, so employees have somewhere to watch the games other than the Internet.”