College Hoops and Its Impact on the IT Industry

by Modis on March 26, 2012

The NCAA basketball tournament is in full swing, and that means people are checking their brackets, cheering on their favorite teams and hoping their schools don’t choke at the end of a Cinderella season. However, the March tournament frenzy also translates to a lot of wasted time at work, with people glued to streaming games on their computers, tablets or smart phones. This eats up a lot of time, and a lot of bandwidth, and companies are beginning to stand up to the madness.

Modis recently polled 500 employed IT Professionals about their IT departments’ policies and actions towards streaming video, particularly around the college basketball postseason. This telephone survey was conducted by Braun Research on behalf of Modis, among a nationally representative sample of 500 IT Professionals. The survey was fielded between February 8 – 17, 2012. Results have a margin of error of +/- 4.4% at the 95% confidence level.

The NCAA Basketball Tournament survey brought about many key findings regarding the way the playoffs impacts IT, streaming content, online activity and technology companies including:

NCAA basketball playoffs negatively impact IT networks – 2 in 5 (42 percent) IT professionals say the playoffs have impacted their network, with 37 percent reporting it has slowed down and 34 percent reporting it has shut down.



IT departments take action against streaming the NCAA basketball tournament– Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of IT professionals say their department takes some sort of action to block, throttle, or ban streaming non-work content. Of those who take action, 64 percent block streaming content, 64 percent throttle/slow down streaming content, and 62 percent have a company policy banning streaming non-work content.



The March basketball playoffs are stressful for IT professionals – Nearly a third (29 percent) of IT professionals say that preparation, execution and consideration for postseason college hoops adds stress to their IT work life.

The biggest reason IT departments block streaming content is to preserve networks – While IT departments block streaming content primarily to maintain a stable office IT network, (82 percent), a majority (71 percent) also do it to remove any distractions in the workplace. Three in four (75 percent) IT professionals say it should be forbidden for employees to watch sporting events like the NCAA basketball tournament during the workday.



Other major online events this year will post a network threat – IT professionals think other 2012 events, such as Cyber Monday/holiday shopping (43 percent), usage of social media sites (42 percent), and tennis finals (37 percent), will also affect their network.

Majority of employees complain to IT about content-streaming policies – While the majority of IT professionals (54 percent) either “often” or “sometimes” receive verbal or e-mail feedback from employees complaining about their content-streaming or the tournament viewing policies, almost three-quarters (71 percent) of them believe employees find their company’s content-streaming policy to be fair.



Even with 68 teams in play, college basketball’s biggest competition may be coming from IT departments looking to keep the madness out of the office. Check out some more results from the survey in these articles from news outlets throughout the country. Will Streaming March Madness Games Kill Your Office Network? March Madness in the office: Work comes in second

Life Inc.: Your IT department is ruining your March Madness fun

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Eggleston March 27, 2012 at 10:50 am

I worked for a company that would set up a projector in our office (it was a large room woth on ly 4 foot cubile walls, no prarie dogs) and show the game for everyone to see. We all wroked at our desks anyway, so we were able to work and keep up with the score. Not as good as sitting on the sofa with a beer, but you could at least keep up with your team and work at the same time.

Point is that if employers would embrace it instead of fighting it, ti would be a lot less costly, provide important office morale boost, and improve employee retention.

Tom March 27, 2012 at 11:44 am

I’d agree with that last comment – it would free the bandwidth, too.

john gnazzo March 27, 2012 at 2:47 pm

While performing in the CIO role in my last position, I got to purchase a new fire wall system. The tech recommended that you do NOT block streaming, but only allocate a small percentage of the total bandwidth to it. This is settable in modern firewalls. 1-5 percent is reasonable. A setting of 5 percent would yield only an bandwidth utilization increase of 5 percent, if nobody was normally streaming content. As more people try to stream data, their bandwidth will appreciably decline.

Paul Adams March 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I see zero difference in my network. The people in my company usually work from 8-5, not stream basketball games.

Michael Gokey March 27, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I have found that in most places I worked, that only a handful of guys actually paid attention to and talked about March Madness at the office. Mostly what I have found is that they record it, watch at home or at the sports bars with their buddies. I haven’t seen much network traffic difference at work during work hours.

Theodore R. Smith March 27, 2012 at 8:24 pm

The most memorable time for me when streaming took the corporate network down to its knees was Obama’s inaugural address in November 2008.

Pretty much every black person (and a great number of others, mind you) had it streaming on their computers pretty much the entire day, many hours before and many hours later. They viewed it on a great many different sites, so IT couldn’t figure out how to traffic shape it, either. They’d block cnn, then people’d quickly pass around links to it on Russian sites, etc.

Now *that* was madness!

Nice March 27, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Wow folks, way to keep morale high among your workforce!

Jon Leszczynski March 28, 2012 at 8:11 am

If you tweak your network to support multicast video streaming the impact during events like March Madness or the inauguration becomes very minimal while making everybody happy. Smartphones and 4g networks are making it possible to access the media anyhow.

art.s March 28, 2012 at 10:00 am

Excellent stress test for networking pipes to prove at their full capacity planning.

Tom White March 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Tell your IT guys to check out Blue Coat to reduce multiple threads of streaming data. An essential benefit that Blue Coat uniquely provides is a reduction in bandwidth consumed by video through stream-splitting and multi-casting techniques that allow web-based video to be accessed once and served many times to multiple users in real time. In addition, Blue Coat’s caching technology for web and video content dramatically reduces bandwidth consumption and perceptibly improves web performance.

Steven Hyde March 29, 2012 at 6:33 am

Why is there any need to use company resources when many people can stream on personal devices, my device, my rules. Unlimited data plans and 4G, perfect for March Madness, streaming music. Next thing you know, companies will want the IT staff to begin wearing ties again because it looks more professional.

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