March Madness Mania Grows Among Business Professionals

Businesses face $1.6B in lost productivity as work gets benched during March Madness

Photo: Associated Press

March Madness is set to consume American businesses, with more white-collar workers expected to indulge in the tournament this year than in 2016.

Don’t put it past employees to find a way to watch – they’ll be doing all they can to keep up with the tournament while prioritizing brackets over spreadsheets.

How much time will you spend a day watching the games at work?

8 minutes: 33%

30 minutes: 26%

1-2 hours: 21%

3-5 hours: 19%

In total, over half (53%) of business professionals said they plan to watch the NCAA Tournament this year, of which 61% will be watching during the workday, according to a new Office Pulse study. That’s a lift of 17% from last year, when just 52% of business professionals said they would watch the tournament during the workday.

Excluding the championship game, businesses will lose $1.6 billion during the course of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament due to lost productivity from employees watching the tournament and participating in office pools. That’s an additional $300 million lost compared to $1.3 billion in 2016.

Not much is out of bounds for game-crazed employees trying to manage the madness. While nearly a third of employers allow tournament viewing during office hours, nearly one in five workers plan to secretly watch it and 1 in 10 plan to take an extra-long lunch.

Other viewing insights include:

  • 67% plan to watch the games for 30+ minutes this year, compared to 58% in 2016
    • Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) will spend 3-5 hours of their workday watching the games
      • 21% of male professionals will “secretly” watch the games at work
        • Of female business professionals planning to watch the NCAA Tournament at work, 16% plan to watch in secret, compared to 13% last year. That’s an increase of 23%.

        Betting Big on Brackets

        Business professionals aren’t just sitting on the sidelines when the games are on, they’re going to be actively engaged with their coworkers:

        • 30% of business professionals said they’re taking part in a March Madness bracket/office pool with their colleagues
          • 5% are filling out an office bracket with no intention of watching the games
            • 40% will spend $20 on their bracket

            March Madness is a slam dunk for employee morale around the workplace. The main reason white-collar workers were participating in a tournament bracket is to “have fun with their coworkers” and “boost morale” (68%).

            Other insights include:

            • 73% of male workers plan to watch the tournament, up 12% from last year
              • 39% of Sr. Executives/C-Suites/Business Owners plan to watch between 3-5 hours a day
                • 6% were peer pressured into their office pool around the tournament

                The 2017 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament kicks off Tuesday March 14 with day games starting March 16 on CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV.


                Using an average hourly pay rate of $10.65 among 123 million employees, we averaged 4 hours of lost work during the tournament per employee who plans to watch at work to account for a total loss in productivity of $1,609,102,791.


                About Office Pulse

                Office Pulse by Captivate offers marketers timely analysis and insights from a proprietary panel of upscale professionals in the top markets. The Office Pulse panel of more than 8,000 influential consumers and business decision makers includes C-level executives, Millennials, middle management, small business owners, working women and working moms.

                About Captivate

                Known for its vast network of nearly 12,000 elevator displays located in 1,600 premier office buildings across North America, Captivate connects advertisers with 13 million unique monthly viewers through creative, research-driven and Nielsen-measured advertising and marketing programs. By engaging its viewers with timely news and actionable information that helps balance the personal and professional demands of the workday, Captivate provides advertisers with a highly desirable and difficult-to-reach audience of affluent and influential business professionals. Founded in 1997, Captivate is owned by Generation Partners. For more information, please visit

                By |2019-02-14T05:46:20-05:00March 7th, 2017|March Madness, Office Habits|Comments Off on March Madness Mania Grows Among Business Professionals