Game on the line

Corporate America takes World Cup breaks, and we have the data to prove it

June 30, 2014
June 30, 2014

The US Mens National Soccer team plays Belgium in the World Cup tomorrow—July 1—at 4pm. If the team captivates Americans as it did during its last match, you can expect business to slow significantly on Tuesday afternoon.

Using conference calls as a proxy for productivity, the impact of a World Cup match on US business is clear.

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Call volume (as in the aggregate duration of them, not their loudness) on US-based conference calls provided by InterCall was down 7% during last week’s US-Germany match, compared to the seven days before, according to data provided by the company. In the last moments of the game, call volume was 11% less than the previous week—a sizable drop in calls, considering InterCall averaged 1.2 million hours of conference calls a day in 2013.

The draw of the soccer field is not just affecting the private sector. It’s delaying the work of the US government too. President Barack Obama implied as much to George Stephanopoulos while they watched the US lose to Germany aboard Air Force One: “We had elements — which I won’t detail — of our foreign policy that have been shaped around the World Cup,” he told the ABC news host. “Phone calls, meetings, initiatives we had to think about.”

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