The Super Bowl ”Spread” for Companies

After losses in worker productivity are balanced by gains from Super Bowl-related spending, U.S. businesses don't make out so badly.

The hype surrounding Super Bowl XL will cost U.S.-based businesses $780 million in lost productivity this week, going by a back-of-the-envelope calculation by outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Challenger’s calculation begins with the 90 million Americans who are expected to watch the telecast of Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks. The consultancy assumes that 63 percent (56.7 million) are employed, in line with the national employment-to-population ratio. Working from the latest available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which pegs the average weekly income for U.S. workers at $659, Challenger reckons an average of $2.75 per worker for every 10 minutes in a 40-hour work week.

Allowing for 10 minutes per worker each business day this week — perhaps discussing Shaun Alexander’s postseason stats or searching for web videos of Troy Polamalu’s fiercest tackles — runs up a tab of $155,925,000 per day (or $780 million for the week) in lost productivity for U.S. businesses, calculates Challenger.

That’s just this week; the original Monday-morning quarterbacks will undoubtedly spend time rehashing the game, recounting their favorite Super Bowl commercials, or simply recovering (at home or at the office) from an “XL” party that they took too literally. (Challenger figures on another 10 minutes per worker; a figure that might be a little low.) The effects will likely be most noticeable in Pittsburgh and Seattle, Challenger observes. Web-surfing in Seattle may have an especially large impact; the consultancy notes that according to Central Connecticut State University, the Seahawks’ home is the most Internet-literate city in America.

Even so, the effects of Super Bowl XL on the workplace will go unnoticed in the overall economy, says chief executive officer John A. Challenger. Indeed, notes the consultancy, the NFL expects more than $100 million in sales of Super Bowl XL merchandise, the host city of Detroit will pull in more than $300 million in revenues, and Americans will spend millions of dollars more on party supplies. Day-after aspirin and antacids add up, too.

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