ESPN_logo__130813225927-275x206UPDATE, 12:41 PM: The final numbers are in and ESPN’s live broadcast last night of Day 1 of 2014 NFL Draft has proven a big winner. The cable sports giant drew a record 9.943 million viewers and a 6.1 rating among Adults 18-49. Both of those results are the best ESPN has done on Day 1 of the Draft since it first started airing the picks back in 1980. Last night saw a 49% jump up in terms of the demo of the 4.1 rating that the comparable day of the 2013 Draft pulled in. The rise was even more impressive in terms of total viewership with a whopping 60% leap up from the 6.199 million that watched Day 1 last year on April 25. As I reported earlier with the metered market numbers, ESPN’s coverage hit its peak in the 9:45 – 10 PM period as the Dallas Cowboys made their No.#16 slot pick  for 2014. That’s when the ratings went up to an 8.0. With no call for Michael Sam but Jadeveon Clowney getting the No. #1 pick to go to the Houston Texans, Day 1 of the 2014 Draft was well ahead of the previous record holder of 2010. The first day of that Draft on April 22, 2010 got a 4.6 rating and 7.290 million viewers with Sam Bradford being selected by the St. Louis Rams as the first pick. The 2014 Draft continues tonight and Saturday.

PREVIOUS, 8:11 AM: The 2014 NFL Draft was good night for Jadeveon Clowney and the Houston Texans, a battle for figurative yardage for 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, and a total touchdown for ESPN. The powerhouse cable channel scored a record 6.8 metered market rating last night with its broadcast of Day 1 of the draft. That’s a Super Bowl-style jump of 48% over last year’s 4.8 MM rating. It is also the highest the NFL Draft Day 1 has hit since the 2014 NFL Draftoutlet first began broadcasting the annual picks in 1980. (Jimmy Carter was President then and the Detroit Lions picked Billy Sims that April 29 night). The previous high was the 5.4 ESPN drew in 2010. Leaving the NHL and NBA playoffs far behind and undoubtedly tackling everyone else’s primetime, ESPN’s telecast last night from NYC’s Radio City Music Hall peaked in the 9:45-10 PM period with an 8.0 – that’s when the Dallas Cowboys were picking their man. As a point of reference, Day 1 of the 2013 Draft pulled a 4.1 rating among adults 18-49 with 6.1 million total viewers.

Usually held in late April, the draft was pushed back a week this year because of scheduling issues with the venue. The NFL now says it will continue to hold the draft in May. More rounds follow today and Saturday on the network. Additionally ratings info from ESPN’s Day 1 Draft coverage should be available later today and we’ll update. In the meantime here are  some stats for you:

2014 NFL Draft Top-10 metered markets
1.Cleveland -13.0
2. Houston – 11.6
3. Austin, TX -11.3
4. Greenville, SC -10.8
5. New Orleans -10.8
6. Buffalo -10.6
7. San Antonio – 10.2
8. Columbus, OH – 8.9
9. Greensboro, NC – 8.8
10. Philadelphia – 8.8

NFL Draft On ESPN: Metered Market Ratings 2010-2014
2014 NFL Draft – 6.8 – May 8, 2013
2013 NFL Draft – 4.6 – April 25, 2013
2012 NFL Draft – 4.8 – April 26, 2012
2011 NFL Draft – 4.3 – April 28, 2011
2010 NFL Draft – 5.4 – April 22, 2010