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Day 1 of NFL Draft sets ratings record

Much of America sat at home last night with nothing to do and a record-setting number decided to watch the 2020 NFL Draft.

With the NFL Network on the television, WBAL Sports Anchor/Reporter Pete Gilbert checks his computer following a stand-up report on the 2020 NFL Free Agency and the Baltimore Ravens in the basement of WBAL Chief Sports Photographer Jim Forner’s home basement on March 18, 2020 in Mount Airy, Maryland. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The 2020 NFL Draft kicked off its first fully virtual draft on Thursday evening, and as expected, a whole lot of people tuned in. With much of America staying home to protect themselves against the Covid-19 pandemic, people were looking for something to do. A large chunk tuned in to watch Roger Goodell announce the 32 picks of the first round.

The NFL announced on Friday that an average audience of over 15.6 million viewers watched night one of the 2020 NFL Draft across ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, and digital channels. The previous high was 2014, when the league had 12.4 million viewers.

Normally, ESPN and NFL Network compete for viewers and ad dollars, but the nature of this year’s draft resulted in some changes. ESPN led the main draft programming with coverage on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ABC, while NFL Network aired the league’s “Draft-A-Thon” to raise money for Covid-19 relief efforts.

It is not a surprising outcome. The price for a 30-second commercial was almost double what it was a year ago. Ratings will likely go down for day two and day three, but the league will probably still finish with record ratings once the weekend is complete. The draft is more for the hard core fans, but more casual fans likely figured, what the heck?

Ratings in general are going to be up for televised and streamed events. By comparison. Travis Scott had a concert air on Fortnite and that drew 12.3 million people just through streaming. So, that offers a bit of perspective on numbers. Impressive either way.