SBD/May 9, 2014/Media

Manziel Drama Helps ESPN, NFL Net Combine For Record NFL Draft Overnight Rating

ESPN's NFL Draft coverage peaked when the Cowboys were on the clock.
ESPN and NFL Network combined to average an 8.6 overnight rating for the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, which is projected to be the most-watched first-round on record. The combined rating across the two networks is a 5% increase over the previous high, a 6.4 rating in '10. NFL Net averaged a 1.9 rating, up 51% over last year's 1.2, while ESPN garnered a 6.8 figure, up 47% and marking the net's best rating on record. Meanwhile, the Houston market delivered a 15.3 local rating, the highest among all markets. Cleveland-Akron and Buffalo were the next highest among NFL markets, respectively. Greenville-Spartanburg averaged the third-highest rating among all markets, likely due to anticipation about former Univ. of South Carolina DE and top pick Jadeveon Clowney. There were a total of 14 markets that averaged higher than a 10.0 rating, up from three in '13. ESPN's coverage peaked with an 8.0 rating between 9:45-10:00pm ET, when the Cowboys were making their selection. The Draft also had competition from other major sports telecasts last night, with ESPN2 earned a 2.6 overnight for Heat-Nets and a 2.7 overnight for Spurs-Trail Blazers. NBCSN also averaged a 1.2 overnight for Bruins-Canadiens and a 0.7 for Ducks-Kings. Figures from Twitter also showed that there were 6.4 million tweets sent globally during the first round of the Draft (Karp & Carpenter, THE DAILY). 

BIG NUMBERS IN DALLAS: In Dallas, Barry Horn reported the draft earned a 7.5 local rating on ESPN, while Rockies-Rangers on FS Southwest averaged a 1.5 rating. Only one show "topped ESPN's draft coverage," as CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" scored an 11.1 local rating (DALLASNEWS.com, 5/9).  

JOHNNY DRAMA: NFL.com's Adam Schein wrote the wait for Manziel was "long, and the insanity played out brilliantly on NFL Network." It was "better than any reality show on television" (NFL.com, 5/8). NFL.com's Judy Battista writes cameras showed Manziel's table "over and over." To "capture him playing with a bottle cap. Checking his phone. Taking another sip of water." As if he had "been selected, time after time." The cameras "captured the moments of joy around him, then whipped around to document another moment of Manziel agony, his nervousness making him look nearly nauseous." The green room "is an awkward place" (NFL.com, 5/9).

EMBRACING DEBATE: NATIONAL FOOTBALL POST's Joe Fortenbaugh noted ESPN's Jon Gruden "pushed hard" for Manziel during Draft coverage, while Ray Lewis "professed his love" for LB Khalil Mack to be the top overall pick. Fortenbaugh: "Any schmuck with half a brain and a pair of sweatpants knew Clowney was the play." So either Gruden and Lewis were "completely clueless as to what was about to transpire, or they were debating for debate’s sake by backing an opinion in which they truly didn’t believe." Fortenbaugh wrote, "I’m not sure which it was, but opening your coverage with two of three analysts swinging and missing isn’t exactly the best way to kick-off a broadcast." Meanwhile, ESPN "no longer jams a camera into the face of an emotional prospect on the phone with his brand-new employer five minutes before the actual pick is announced" (NATIONALFOOTBALLPOST.com, 5/9).

HARD KNOCK LIFE: In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch cited a source as saying that the Giants "will not be required to participate" in HBO's "Hard Knocks" because several other teams "already have volunteered." The source said that "enough clubs were open to being filmed throughout training camp and the preseason" that the Giants "would get to beg off -- for this year, at least." The source said that a decision on who will be the focus of the show will "most likely be made in June" (N.Y. POST, 5/8). 
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