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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.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

David Muir is the most-watched man in summer TV

David Muir. Photo: ABC News

A quirk of the shutdown era, going back to March, has been the resurgence of evening news shows.

The intrigue: With no Olympics, and "60 Minutes" and other shows in summer reruns, ABC's "World News Tonight with David Muir" — for weeks — has been the most watched show on all of television.

Updated 7 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."