Does the World Cup matter?

Tweet ItEvidently there are plenty of hooligans in my neighborhood looking for an excuse to start drinking and yelling at a TV around noon in my favorite pub.  This was a little surprising to me, since I live in a yuppy downtown Seattle neighborhood which is full of software geeks and otherwise respectable people.

Now that it’s all over with, I decided to see if there was a broader trend in RescueTime’s data. Time spent on the computer dropped about 4% and productive time dropped a full 10% here in the US on the day of our first game vs England.  More people than usual checked the news, which managed to grab a 5% bump despite the drop in total time.  Evidently no one was watching the game on their computers, since Entertainment (including sports) stayed flat.

The effect was even more pronounced in the UK.  Productive time dropped 13%, total time dropped 7%, and instead of reading about the upset in the news like their American counter parts, the English were apparently watching it live with an 5% bump in Entertainment.

All that’s interesting, but that game took place on a Saturday, when most people aren’t supposed to be working anyway.  When the US squeaked out a tie during the final minutes of their next match against Slovenia on Friday, our American users spent a little more time than normal on the news, but it wasn’t enough to cause a significant change in productivity.

Here is a graph of all the days of the World Cup, compared to a typical week* to help see if there was real trend here.

It’s obvious that productive time was consistently down during the entire World Cup.  The US’s game dates are circled in red.  It’s interesting that you can see after we were eliminated by Ghana, things picked up a bit, but still didn’t quite make it back to normal.  This might be because we have more international users than members in the US.  Total time spent on computers was down 4% and productive time was down 3% over all the working days in the tournament.

There are a couple other interesting points in that graph, particularly the 18% drops in productivity over Fathers Day and Fourth of July weekend.  People seemed to come back pretty slowly after the 4th, and didn’t manage to get back into full swing until the end of the week.

When you look at it from RescueTime’s perspective, it’s pretty clear that the world cup does matter.

*A typical week is the average from the 28 days before the World Cup began (Memorial Day was tossed out).

RescueTime provides a time management tool to allow individuals and businesses to track their time and attention to see where their days go (and to help them get more productive!). We have hundreds of millions of man hours of second-by-second attention data from hundreds of thousands of users around the world, tracking in real time both inside and outside the browser.