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Desk jockeys can rejoice. But human-resources folks may not get a kick out of employees watching on company time

World Cup slackers and desk slaves rejoice: the BBC has announced it is to screen all of its matches from Germany this summer live on the internet as well as on television.

Roger Mosey, head of BBC Sport, said the move reflects the BBC "taking seriously" what consumers have been calling for. He said BBC viewers now want sport on the platform of their choice, to watch when and where they like.

And while that's great news for those wanting to keep up with all the games it may well have HR departments and IT managers worrying about the impact the news could have on productivity, bandwidth and network up-time.

A recent survey suggested companies could lose around £100 per head in lost productivity during the World Cup as staff keep up with matches online during the four-week footie-fest and many businesses are attempting to mitigate this risk by considering flexi-working or other policies.

However, the BBC announcement may raise the stakes further - and is also likely to raise concerns about bandwidth drain on businesses - and some companies will inevitably choose to block internet access.

Paul Broome, IT director at 192.com, told silicon.com his company will gladly bite the bullet and show most games projected onto the wall of the IT department, to discourage individuals from watching them all on their own screens. He added that the number of streaming broadcasts permitted over the network will be limited to encourage staff to use the big screen.

He said hopefully staff would be able to carry on working that way.

Broome said: "People will still be expected to work." But even if they allow themselves to be distracted occasionally by a goal, a near miss or some Peter Crouch body-popping, Broome said: "I am sure this will save us time and money productivity-wise. Remember that most of our customers will be watching too so site issues should be few."

However, Broome added his concerns that with England's game against Trinidad and Tobago kicking off at 17:00(BST) on 15 June, while many people are still at their desks, "we may see a UK-wide net slowdown".

When asked by silicon.com about past problems with up-time during major events, the BBC could offer no guarantees that the streamed matches, available only within the UK, would remain accessible and reliable given the likely huge demand for the service. However, a spokesman told silicon.com: "We have recently improved our serving infrastructure specifically for big events like the World Cup and Wimbledon."

He added: "As part of the BBC's long-term plans to deliver content to new platforms, we've been working with the industry to take measures that will help us deal with the levels of demand that these sorts of major events can generate."

Links:

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The Weekly Round-Up: 02.06.06


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