Here’s How Many Billions U.S. Businesses Will Lose During March Madness

March 22, 2018, 11:00 PM UTC
The Sweet Sixteen is upon us, and with lower seed upsets making headlines throughout the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, many a dream of winning the office pool has already been dashed.
But with games running from noon until after midnight Eastern time, employees across the country will still be taking time off work (or taking time during work) to keep up with the tournament.
In fact, American workers will spend on average of about six hours focusing on basketball during the tournament—checking brackets, watching a game online, reading coverage, and verifying team rankings, according to staffing firm OfficeTeam. This year, the financial site WalletHub has estimated that those distracted employees will cost U.S. businesses a total of $6.3 billion.
But the impact isn’t all bad. Bracket-building and office betting can also foster camaraderie. March Madness office betting makes 84% of employees happier in their jobs, according to a Randstad USA survey.
And workplace speculation is only the tip of the iceberg of the economic impact of March Madness. Across the country, its scale is remarkable: This year 70 million brackets are expected to be completed. Many people will bet on those brackets. Ten billion dollars is how much will be wagered on the basketball tournament this year, nearly all of it illegally, according to the American Gaming Association. That’s two times more than is typically wagered on the Super Bowl.
And then there are the games themselves. For those attending, the average ticket will cost $212. And for those watching either in San Antonio or in their local bar, 1.3 million extra barrels of beer are produced to keep up with demand. The Final Four host city is expected to make a pretty penny from the games. According to WalletHub, San Antonio will bring in an estimated $135 million.
And as for the rest of us: You can thank CBS and Turner Broadcasting for paying $19.6 billion for the TV rights through 2032 to keep bringing those games straight to your living room—or office. We won’t judge you.