Last July, My brother and I sat down and watched the entire Live 8 concert, or at least six or seven sites worth of it, in one sitting.
He was in Surrey, B.C., I was in Toronto, and via IM'ing we chatted back and forth through the whole thing. To me, it was an eye-opening experience. Never had our traditional TVs and telephones seemed so limiting.
Today the NCAA tournament is underway, and CBS's online partner, CBS Sportsline, has raised eyebrows and office-bound fans' hopes by offering up its coverage online and free, much like AOL's Live 8 webcast that simply destroyed the offerings of television outlets like MTV. It's not exactly the same, of course. CBS is the exclusive rights-holder -- unlike AOL, it is the traditional media embracing the new here, instead of annihilating it. Former CBS executive Neal Pilson calls this "a watershed event," but some companies don't feel the same way. This from the Sports Business Journal:
"With CBS’ “March Madness On Demand” offering NCAA men’s college basketball games for free online this year, “bosses around the country are taking note and employing Internet filtering software to limit employee access,” according to CNBC’s Steve Liesman. Liesman: “March Madness, it turns out, is a big and measurable productivity loser in a nation that, ironically, is obsessed with productivity.” Websense VP & Chief Counsel Michael Newman, whose company provides Web filtering and security services, said, “The idea really is to make sure that employees are productive when they’re at the office. I think everybody would agree that employees shouldn’t come to the office [and] spend all day watching basketball games” (“On The Money,” 3/15)."
SBJ also cites this piece by Thomas Heath in today's Washington Post:
While it's impossible to say how many companies are blocking Web access to the tournament, there is a growing recognition that technology is allowing March Madness to creep further into the workplace.
"It's a phenomenon that businesses have to live with forever now," said Raul Fernandez, co-owner of the Washington Capitals and chairman of ObjectVideo, a security video software company that employs 85 at its headquarters in Reston.
"We are living in a world where it's not just the NCAA, but you can watch 'Desperate Housewives' or other games remotely through the Internet. For me, it falls into the category under trusting the employees to get their work done."
If you're watching the tournament online today or Friday -- or maybe you were glued to the computer following along during one of my live text commentaries of Canada during the Olympics -- I'd like to hear from you. Do you feel this "a watershed event"? Is this where we're going? And how much work aren't you getting done today?