Published on: May 7, 2019

**Note: It’s not even close to the largest productivity-sapper.**

The HBO hit series Game of Thrones is the talk of virtually every workplace. Co-workers are not only discussing plot points and battle scenes, but also engaging in office pools on which major characters will survive each episode of the final season. All this banter is bound to cause lapses in productivity, possibly to the tune of over $3 billion, according to an estimate from global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Each episode of the previous season, Season 7, averaged 32.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen tracking. With the record 17.4 billion viewers who tuned in for the Season 8 premier, those numbers are likely to be comparable this season.

Applying the current employment-to-population ratio of 60.6% to those average weekly viewers, that is 19,876,800 employed viewers. Meanwhile, the average hourly wage for non-farm payrolls is $27.77 as of April 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

With 19.9 million workers multiplied by $27.77, $552 million per hour is wasted on discussing the most recent episode. Multiply that over the six episodes of the final season and the cost to employers comes to $3.31 billion in lost productivity.

“The cultural phenomenon that is Game of Thrones is another opportunity for employers to build camaraderie in the office. Bosses shouldn’t try to stifle these discussions in the least. In fact, it’s likely they are just as enthusiastically participating in them as their employees,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

However, these Game of Thrones discussions are not the most expensive to employers, according to Challenger estimates. Below are the most high-profile productivity sappers:

Online Holiday Shopping 2018

  • Total cost to employers – $35.4 billion
  • Average hourly wage at the time – $27.43
  • Time spent shopping – 1.7 hours for five workdays (8.5 hours)
  • Amount lost per hour – $2,448,050,926

2017/2018 Flu Season

  • Total cost to employers – $21.4 billion
  • 25,000,000 estimated workers sickened
  • Average hourly wage at the time – $26.74
  • Average wages lost due to missing four eight-hour shifts – $855.68

Fantasy Football 2016

  • Total cost to employers – $16.8 billion
  • 38.5 million estimated workers played Fantasy Football
  • Average hourly wage at the time – $25.69

March Madness 2019

  • Total cost to employers – $13.3 billion
  • 75.5 million estimated workers play March Madness
  • Average time spent on tournament at work – 6.375
  • Average hourly wage at the time – $27.66

Super Bowl Monday 2019

  • Total cost to employers – $4.4 billion
  • 13,900,000 workers requested Monday off
  • Average weekly wage at the time – $948.06

Michael Cohen House Oversight Committee Hearing

  • Total cost to employers – $3.8 billion
  • 90,100,000 used Internet at work
  • 82% of workers work an average weekday
  • 94% of workers discuss politics at work
  • Average hourly wage at the time – $27.56


Contact Colleen Madden Blumenfeld for more data or to set up an interview with SVP Andy Challenger.

Contact Challenger for Media Inquiries