Was March Madness the Final Straw for Procter & Gamble?

March Madness is officially over, but its effects may still be lingering in corporate America. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the college tournament could have cost employers as much as $1.8 billion in unproductive employee time in only the first week. “I can’t think of an external event that draws more people’s attention during the workday like the NCAA Tournament does in the US,” says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, according to State Journal. “The Super Bowl, the Olympics don’t compare to this.” The popularity of the basketball games can also cause internet slowdowns at companies.

Only one day after the Kentucky Wildcats won the championship, Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE:PG) issued an internal memo to its nearly 130,000 employees limiting their use of bandwidth monsters such as Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE:P). The Cincinnati-based company made the move after the its information-technology department found that employees were playing over 50,000 YouTube (NASDAQ:GOOG) videos and listening to 4,000 hours of Pandora music daily, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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P&G Spokesman Paul Fox explained, “They’re both great sites, but if you want to download movies, do it on your own time. If you want to download music, do it on your own time,” according to the WSJ. Currently, employees can still access YouTube and Facebook, but only because the company uses the websites in its business. However, the memo warned employees about using the internet for personal reasons.

“We’re asking all employees to leverage company resources with an ownership mentality,” the memo said. The memo also explained that a quarter of the company’s bandwidth is being used on videos, music and photos. The biggest bandwidth spikes occurred during major sporting events, suggesting employees are surfing ESPN.com (NYSE:DIS) and other related sites during work hours.

P&G is hardly the only company enforcing tighter internet usage in the Cincinnati area. GE Aviation (NYSE:GE), a world-leading provider of commercial and military jet engines, blocks Pandora, YouTube and Facebook. Cintas Corp. (NASDAQ:CTAS), which provides uniforms and apparel, also blocks several popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Eric McWhinnie at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com