SBD/April 30, 2012/Media

NFL Net Draws Record Audience For Draft, While ESPN Up From '11

ESPN's coverage of Round One of the NFL Draft Thursday night had 6.7 million viewers

ESPN finished with a 2.0 fast-national U.S. rating (2.9 million viewers) for its three days of NFL Draft coverage this year, up slightly from a 1.9 rating (2.9 million viewers) for last year’s three days. The net was led by a 4.4 rating and 6.7 million viewers for the first round last Thursday night, marking the net’s second-best audience figure for the first round ever, behind only ’10, which was the first year the first round aired in primetime. The first round this year on ESPN was also up 16% and 11%, respectively, from a 3.8 U.S. rating and 6.0 million viewers last year. ESPN’s coverage of the second and third rounds on Friday night from 7:00-11:04pm ET averaged a 1.9 rating (2.7 million viewers), up from a 1.6 rating (2.4 million viewers last year). Rounds two and three were split between ESPN and ESPN2 last year, while airing completely on ESPN in ’12. Saturday’s coverage from 12:00-7:25pm averaged a 1.1 rating (1.4 million viewers). A majority aired on ESPN before switching to ESPN2 from 6:58-7:25pm due to the NBA Playoffs. Cleveland-Akron led all markets for ESPN’s three days of coverage with a 5.0 local rating, followed by Dayton with a 4.3 rating. Meanwhile, NFL Network averaged a 0.5 U.S. rating and 757,000 viewers for its three days of draft coverage, marking a new record for the net. The net’s first-round coverage also averaged a record-setting 0.9 rating and 1.4 million viewers, up from a 0.7 rating and 1.0 million viewers last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). In Tampa, Tom Jones asks, “How can you watch the NFL draft and not appreciate simply how much work the network puts into such an event?” ESPN’s coverage “is seamless and complete” and “astonishingly so” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 4/30).

TWITTER HAS IT FIRST: In Buffalo, Greg Connors wrote under the header, “Twitter Scoops NFL During Draft.” Throughout Thursday's opening round and the next two rounds on Friday it "was not unusual” for ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Chris Mortenson and “other NFL reporters to reveal the picks on Twitter before the names passed [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell’s lips.” By the time Goodell announced Stephon Gilmore as the Bills’ first-round pick “at about 9 p.m. Thursday, that news seemed so five minutes ago as the pick had been rocketing around the Twitterverse” (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/29).

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