Apr 24, 2020 - Economy & Business

Virtual NFL draft draws ratings record

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks from his home in Bronxville, New York.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks from his home in Bronxville, New York. Photo: Getty Images

The National Football League's first-ever virtual draft shattered viewership records on Thursday night, with roughly 15.6 million people tuning in across digital platforms, ABC, ESPN, NFL Network and ESPN Deportes, per the NFL

Why it matters: It's no surprise the event drew vast interest, given that there haven't been many other professional sporting events for fans to follow during the coronavirus crisis.

By the numbers: The first round of the draft saw ratings up roughly 37%, with 11.4 million viewers.

  • The previous ratings record dated back to 2014, when the first night of the draft drew 12.4 million viewers.

Be smart: The NFL draft also offered sports fans a different experience this year than in years past.

  • Because of stay-at-home orders, followers got a rare glimpse into the homes of the players, team executives and even the NFL commissioner.
  • As Axios' Sports Editor Kendall Baker notes, the virtual event went pretty smoothly, which likely kept viewers interested.

The big picture: It's the second major ratings win for Disney's ESPN. Last Sunday, ESPN's "The Last Dance" documentary on the Chicago Bulls’ 1998 NBA championship run averaged a record-breaking 6.1 million viewers.

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