Time Wasters Unite for Hoops at Work

CBS is putting the first three rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament on the web for free. They used to charge $19.95, but they figured they could put ads on the site to pay for it. Today’s Boston Herald had the story.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas projects the productivity drain from games could cost employers $3.8 billion nationwide.

For every 13.5 minutes fans in the office spend watching the games on the Internet, employers would lose $237 million in wages, according to Challenger.

“Those live feeds will make it so simple for people to just turn on the game and leave it up on their computer,” said Chief Executive John A. Challenger. “It will inevitably be distracting and it will take some attention from work.”

Of course, the economy’s loss is CBS’ gain. With money increasingly being allocated toward online ads, the No. 2 network is looking at a slam dunk with big-name advertisers.

CBS is paying the NCAA $6 billion over 11 years for the exclusive broadcast and digital rights to the organization’s programming, including the men’s tournament, according to Bloomberg News.

Challenger said trying to block the CBS-owned Web site to ensure workers are focused on the task at hand is a bad strategy. Instead, employers should use the tournament to create some positive morale around the office.

“If you can’t beat ’em, you might as well join ’em,” Challenger said.