Planning on streaming March Madness 2012 at work? Think again

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To the average person, March may be a boring month, highlighted only by the events of St. Patrick’s Day, but for sports enthusiasts across the United States, March is like the holiday season all over again. It’s called March Madness, and since 1939 it has been taking over college basketball courts. Formally known as the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship (and sometimes referred to as “The Big Dance,”) the month-long sporting event pits 68 teams across the country against one another in a single-elimination tournament. But fans who hope to stay up to date on all the action, even when they’re on the clock, may be out of luck. A recent survey found that nearly 2/3 of IT departments take specific action to block their employees from streaming March Madness content.

While employer restrictions on website content is nothing new, having IT projects geared toward specific sporting events is a novel idea. The changes are not only meant to maintain employee productivity, but also to keep the company running. Nearly 40% of survey responders said employees streaming the annual basketball event have led to network disruptions of failures.

The efforts being taken by IT departments across the country are a testament to the popularity of the annual event. Over the past decade especially, advances in technology have made viewing March Madness games easier than ever. In fact, this year the NCAA is allowing iPhone, iPad and Android phone users to stream all 67 games live for a one-time fee of $3.99. In addition, it has been reported that TV ad sales for the event have topped $545 million in previous years.

Although ‘March Madness’ hasn’t technically started (it begins Tuesday, March 13 and ends April 2), qualifying games are being played this week, and college basketball fans everywhere are already gearing up. 31 winning teams will receive automatic bids into the tournament, while 37 others will hope to catch the eyes of members of the selection committee, to be chosen on “Selection Sunday,” March 11. So far teams that have secured a position in the tournament include Davidson Wildcats, Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds, Colorado State Rams ,Creighton Bluejays, Murray State Racers, St. Mary’s Gaels, and the Belmont Bruins.

While the basketball players will be working hard to keep momentum in the tournament, basketball fans and avid gamblers will be working hard on their brackets, placing their bets on who will take home the championship this year. In fact, March 12 is designated as “National Bracket Day,” a day when fans across the country make their bracket predictions about who will make it the Final Four.

If previous years are to serve as a precedent, making those predictions certainly takes more than crunching numbers. Last year’s March Madness champion, UConn, was in the ninth seed in the Big East Conference, before going on to win 11straight games, and ultimately the Championship. The unpredictability of the tournament adds to its appeal and is the source behind the name March Madness.

The final game of the NCAA Division I Championship will be played on Monday, April 2 in New Orleans.


Photo Credit: Neon Tommy via Flickr