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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.

Democrats drubbing Trumpless GOP on social media

Data: Twitter/CrowdTangle (Feb 24, 2021); Chart: Will Chase/Axios

In a swift reversal from 90 days ago, Democrats are now the ones with overpowering social media muscle and the ability to drive news.

The big picture: Former President Donald Trump’s digital exile and the reversal of national power has turned the tables on which party can keep a stranglehold on online conversation.

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to announce details of a plan to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.