We are now over a month into there being no live sports to watch in the United States, and as such, fans are flocking to anything new in droves. The Last Dance on ESPN smashed previous documentary ratings on the four-letter, drawing over 6 million viewers to the premiere of the first two episodes, and the WNBA Draft from two Fridays ago drew its highest audience since 2004.
As such, the expectation was that this past weekend’s NFL Draft would do big, record-setting numbers. The NFL Draft has become a huge event even in non-pandemic times, but with everyone at home and sports fans craving live broadcasts, the virtual draft figured to be a huge draw. Sure enough, all three days of the Draft set new record-highs in viewership for ESPN, as their co-broadcast with the NFL Network was a huge success — with major props deserved by the production crew, host Trey Wingo, and all analysts involved in what was an incredibly smooth weekend of remote broadcasts.
The first round averaged 15.6 million viewers, a new record and 37 percent increase from last year’s draft, and viewers kept tuning in for the next two days, with 55 million total viewers across all the various platforms.
Record Breaking: The 2020 #NFLDraft is the most-watched Draft ever
55 million viewers over three days, up 16% over 2019
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) April 26, 2020
It’s a huge number and the Saturday 4.2 million for the fourth through seventh rounds might be the most ridiculous one. It’s not exactly a surprise, but it still shows just how desperate folks are for something to watch that’s new — or at least has some new information in it.
The NFL Draft-A-Thon was also a success and helped raise $6.6 million for COVID-19 relief programs.