It’s that time of year again. For the next two weeks millions of basketball fans around the world will tune in to that magical event known as the NCAA March Madness.

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And like any good sporting event, your co-workers (and let’s be honest, some of you) are prepping their brackets for the big March Madness office pool. But more importantly, with many of the games taking place during the day, they’re also doing their research on the best and most reliable streaming services to watch the games online during office hours.

Last year Turner Sports reported that the 2016 NCAA March Madness Live netted 3.4 million live video streams and 1.1 million live hours of video consumption – a 16% increase over 2015.

That is a huge influx of video streaming traffic with much of it consumed during peak business hours. While it may seem like there is no greater threat to workplace productivity and your network than March Madness, this isn’t necessarily the case. Many companies see March Madness streaming as a morale booster rather than a productivity killer.

However, if not managed properly, it could impact the performance of your business critical applications and even take down your network.

So, how do you control March Madness streaming and ensure it doesn’t impact your network? Well, you have a couple of options.

1. Block March Madness Traffic Altogether

We can’t say THIS will be the popular choice, but if blocking March Madness traffic altogether is what you want to do, well it will prevent any potential issues. Having said that, it presents a few challenges that can outweigh the benefits.

– Your users will be super mad at you and make fun of you behind your back

– The diehards basketball fans will just take extended breaks and hit the pub down the street to watch the game and will be even less productive

– Realistically you cannot control the plethora of streaming sites available to your users and therefore will have no choice, but to block ALL video streaming which may include some applications that are critical to your business

2. Control March Madness Streaming – without blocking

Your company decides to embrace the excitement that March Madness has to offer, however you want to ensure that while sales is streaming the game from the employee lounge that the CEO hosting a conference call over Skype for Business isn’t affected.

Instead of outright blocking all March Madness traffic, you can set policies to limit the impact of streaming video. This approach has a few notable benefits for companies:

– Your users will love you (maybe even shower you with gifts)

– Users can stream March Madness, but never consume more than the allowed bandwidth

– Your business critical apps will have the guaranteed bandwidth they need to perform reliably and consistently even during the game

How to Control March Madness Streaming Using Exinda

Limit Streaming Using Application Groups: If you’re an Exinda customer, you can easily set bandwidth policies by application, user, time of day, and more. The challenge with limiting March Madness streaming on the corporate network is that so many different sites and mobile apps offer live feeds that it’s difficult to keep track of all of them. That’s where creating a policy using the Application Group feature comes in handy. Exinda comes out of the box with a pre-defined Streaming group. By using the Streaming group in a policy, you can limit the amount of bandwidth that streaming video and audio can consume on the network.

Limit Streaming During Peak Hours: If you want to limit the amount of sports streaming happening during peak business hours, yet allow employees to get their fix after-hours, simply set-up a schedule for when you’d like your policy to run.

With many more hours of streaming ahead between now and the championship game, network managers need to find a way to keep the basketball bonanza at bay.

And now switching gears, who do you think will win?