With a dearth of sports content to consume right now, anticipation for the NFL Draft was high and the ratings did not disappoint, with more than 15 million people tuning in across ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network for the first round. Officially, the viewership came in at 15.6 million fans who got to see Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and the rest of the 32 picks stream in their reactions from home.
JUST IN: The NFL Draft nabbed 15.6M viewers on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network on Thursday night.
That’s a new ratings record and up 37% from last year.
— Frank Pallotta (@frankpallotta) April 24, 2020
That marks a 37 percent increase over last year, when the NFL got to pull out all the usual stops in Nashville and there was more of a debate about who might go first overall.
Not surprisingly, Columbus, Ohio, the hometown of No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow, had the highest ratings, followed by Cleveland, then Cincinnati, where Burrow will now play.
This comes after the debut of “The Last Dance” grabbed 6.1 million viewers for ESPN and the WNBA Draft the Friday prior was up 123 percent over 2019, with 387,000 viewers. The simulated NASCAR iRaces also drew over a million viewers during opening weekend.
Anyone hypothesizing that leagues that can pull off live sports content right now will bring in a heap of viewers seem to be right. With America desperate to be entertained and distracted, the few sports events that have been televised over the past month have been great for TV and likely signal more to come.