SBD/April 26, 2013/Media

NFL Draft Coverage On ESPN, NFL Net Equals Last Year's Rating Despite Lack Of Stars

ESPN and NFL Network combined to average a 5.9 overnight Nielsen rating for the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, flat compared to last year. This year’s telecast is tied with ’12 as the second-best first round overnight on record, behind only ’10, which was the first year the event aired in primetime. The 5.9 combined rating is also up 14% from ’11. ESPN averaged a 4.6 overnight for its coverage, down 4% from last year. The net’s overnight is also up 7% from a 4.3 rating in ’11, but down 15% from a 5.4 rating in ’10. NFL Network earned a 1.2 overnight for its coverage, up from a 1.0 rating last year. The net earned a 0.9 rating in ’11 and a 1.0 rating in ’10. For ESPN and NFL Net’s coverage, Buffalo was the highest-rated market with a combined 11.9 local rating, followed by New Orleans (10.8) and Baltimore (10.1). The NFL Draft also had competition from two NBA Playoff games on TNT. The early primetime game -- Heat-Bucks Game 3 -- earned a 1.9 overnight, while Clippers-Grizzlies Game 3 in the late window earned a 2.2 overnight (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

COMBINED ESPN-NFL NETWORK OVERNIGHT RATING
FOR FIRST ROUND OF DRAFT
YEAR
DAY
START (ET)
ESPN
NFLN
COMBINED
'13
Thurs.
8:00pm
4.6
1.2
5.9
'12
Thurs.
8:00pm
4.8
1.0
5.9
'11
Thurs.
8:00pm
4.3
0.9
5.1
'10
Thurs.
7:30pm
5.5
1.0
6.4
'09
Sat.
4:00pm
4.3
0.7
4.9
'08
Sat.
3:00pm
3.7
0.4
4.2
           

CHUCKY'S REVENGE: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley writes under the header, "ESPN's Jon Gruden Assumes Starring Role In His Network's NFL Draft Show." After the Dolphins traded up to get the Raiders' No. 3 pick to select Oregon DE Dion Jordan, Gruden "pursed his lips, knit his brows, shook his head and sounded the alarm." Gruden said of the pick, "When I watched Dion Jordan play, I just don't see him play." Wolfley writes, "This kind of commentary is golden, especially during a draft, where players usually are crowned, not analyzed." Gruden's commentary "was the driving force of ESPN's coverage, no question." ESPN's Draft coverage has "been pared down to give viewers more Gruden." Meanwhile, NFL Net's Mike Mayock "was doing all the heavy lifting" on the net's Draft coverage (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 4/26). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Matt Yoder writes Gruden gave a "breakthrough performance" Thursday night. He "didn't sugar coat the lack of impact players at the top of the draft," and he was "brutally honest" when talking about Jordan. It was "refreshing to hear Gruden show the ability to critique as easily (and with as much insight) as he did." Yoder: "One wishes the Monday Night Football viewer would hear this side of Chucky" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 4/26). SI's Peter King on his Twitter feed wrote, "Gruden just made his money for this evening. That was great critique of Jordan." The Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs wrote, "Jon Gruden is tuning up Dion Jordan. Harsh criticism. Would love to hear this in an MNF broadcast from him." ESPN's Trent Dilfer wrote, "Gruden and I don't always see eye to eye, but he is KILLING the draft tonight."

A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME: In Albany, Pete Dougherty writes this year's Draft "will be remembered as the year television clashed with Twitter." ESPN's Adam Schefter last night just before the Draft began at 8:00pm ET tweeted, "As one GM texted Tuesday, 'Going dark.' As requested, we'll resume tweeting after 1st round is complete." Dougherty writes the "tweetmasters were stymied by TV in the first four picks," as none of the "insiders" he follows on Twitter reported the selections prior to the official announcements by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. But the "Twitterfest began with the fifth pick," as the Lions selected BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah. CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora had reported the pick on his Twitter feed "a full two minutes before the television announcement." Of the first 12 picks in last night's Draft, "half were broken appreciably earlier on Twitter." For the other picks, Twitter "served as an extension of television -- a place for analysts to speculate on upcoming picks and scrutinize past ones" (Albany TIMES UNION, 4/26).

TWITTER THOUGHTS ON ESPN, NFL NET COVERAGE
: ESPN and NFL Net's competing coverage of the Draft made for plenty of fodder on Twitter last night. SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote, "It's hard to put into words just how much better Rich Eisen is in his role than Chris Berman.” The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell wrote, "Chris Berman, at 8:47, is making strained analogies between Legos and the NFL draft. Someone please pull the main power cord. ... Oh, God, Berman just tried to make some John Grisham point, then lost all train of thought.” FoxSports.com's Jason Whitlock wrote, "Thought that draft was great. Glad ESPN didn't overstaff it. Mel, Gruden and Berman were right mix.” The N.Y. Times' Andy Benoit wrote, "NFL Network has too many mics. Needs to be Eisen and Mayock, just leave it at that.” The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre: "NFL Network beating ESPN right now. Showing Raiders on the phone, looks like a trade is in.” The Baton Rouge Advocate's Les East: "Adam Schefter cannot speak a sentence that does not include the words Manti Te'o.” Deadspin's Timothy Burke: "Number of times names mentioned during NFL draft broadcast: NFL Net: Te'o 32.,Tebow zero. ESPN: Te'o 28, Tebow 2.”

WIELDING ITS POWER
: VARIETY's Brian Lowry wrote under the header, "NFL Draft Coverage Displays League's Mystifying Power." The NFL Draft is "a shout-it from the mountaintop demonstration of pro football's ability to attract viewers in a gaudy manner that dwarfs all other sports in the U.S." But given the "level of padding and endless blather as minutes drag by" between Goodell announcing the selections, "if you watch more than three picks consecutively without having extensively sampled the night's sponsor Bud Light, it's probably time for an intervention" (VARIETY.com, 4/25).

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