MediaFile

from Shop Talk:

World Cup is no March Madness in sapping productivity

cup1It may be the World Cup, but when it comes to sapping productivity in the United States the global soccer tournament still has a thing or two to learn from March Madness and the National Football League.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which often measures lost workplace productivity, said many U.S. fans will tune in for the quadrennial soccer tournament, which kicks off Friday in South Africa, but the event still trails the NCAA men's basketball tournament, dubbed March Madness, and other events.

"Soccer simply has not caught on with the majority of American sports fans, Challenger CEO John Challenger said in a statement.

"However, the World Cup is a unique event and could attract a lot of viewers who might not typically go out of the way to watch a match," he added. "Even as the sport grows in popularity, though, it will have far less of an impact on workplace productivity than the March Madness basketball tournament, for example."

In Challenger's nonscientific, nonbinding ranking of sporting events with the most potential to affect workplace productivity, the World Cup ranked No. 4:

Fox vs Time Warner Cable: Soccer channels go dark for a bit, coincidence?

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We were not completely surprised when Fox Soccer Channel went dark on Sunday afternoon while we were watching West Ham take on Chelsea. (It’s not that the cable bills hadn’t been paid). Seemed the most likely cause was the  really bad snowstorm here in New York and the rest of the U.S. northeast.

But when we noticed that Fox Soccer Espanol, Speed Channel and, for a short while, FX were also down…  well, we couldn’t help wonder if the ruckus between Time Warner Cable and Fox Networks had come to a head and that the great dark screen battle of 2010 had started early.  (Adding to our conspiracy theory: Fox’s news channels were unaffected yesterday, and neither Fox News nor Fox Business are part of the current carriage fisticuffs between TWC and Fox. Hmmmm).

After all, Fox said last week that TWC might pull its broadcast network and entertainment channels because they’ve been unable to reach agreement on fees. TWC for its part thinks Fox wants too much money. And both sides are running marketing campaigns slamming the other. So the idea that everything went black because of a their dispute wasn’t all that farfetched.