Why NFL Draft Ratings Were the Highest Ever

Ryan Glasspiegel

The NFL Draft television numbers are in and they’re impressive:

Per the release, the 47.5 million viewers were up 5% from last year. This is impressive in the aggregate because Day 1 — with less star-power this year compared to Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Saquon Barkley, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson as first rounders last year — was down 2%.

This means that Days 2 and 3 outperformed last year, and my presumption is that the veritable hoards of people watching live in Nashville enhanced the cachet of the event from a TV viewership perspective.

One caveat on why the NFL Draft had the highest audience ever is that this was the second straight year all three days were on broadcast TV; last year they aired on FOX, and this year they aired on ABC. In addition to being on a whole extra channel, putting the Draft on broadcast TV adds huge reach to the number of homes that can watch the event.

Nevertheless, this was noted transparently in the NFL’s press release; this was not a CBS Final Four scenario where they conveniently ignored that last year’s games were on cable.