The initial drama of Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft may have been the fate of Aaron Rodgers and wondering who still listens to Kings of Leon, but the endgame was very sweet for Roger Goodell, Trey Lance, and the Walt Disney Company.
Broadcast with full hoopla for an America that may be turning the corner on the coronavirus pandemic, the ABC, ESPN and NFL Network snared a combined 12.5 million viewers in primetime on Thursday.
Or put in a way that the oddsmakers in Vegas and network executives will both understand and will be amazed at, that’s 20% better in terms of overall audience than the 93rd Academy Awards did on ABC on April 25.
This is the first time the NFL Draft has ever topped the Oscars.
Usually, the biggest non-Super Bowl draw of the TV season, the Oscars fell dramatically from the previous low of 2020 to find itself near snake belly level with just over 10 million tuning in. Admittedly, that comes after a year when cinemas have been figuratively and sometimes literally boarded up across America because of Covid-19.
Now, the first round of the NFL Draft this year was still down almost 17% from the sky high numbers of last year when even the prospect of live sports felt like a partial vaccine unto itself. Yet, coming in as the second most watched Draft Day 1 and the top drawn on all of TV on Thursday is nothing to scoff at either, all things considered.
Adding to the mix is the almost 8 million views the live Draft garnered on YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and ESPN digital platforms. Translating into a real time look at consumer habits and choices, that’s a 50% rise over the streaming results of Day 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Taking a look back at the linear bench, ESPN was the leader with 6.5 sets of sports fan eyeballs. ABC came in with 4.1 million viewers and NFL Network got 1.9 million. Even with the Draft continuing tonight, certain to make Commissioner Goodell’s weekend is the fact the NFL-owned outlet was the only one to see an uptick over 2020 – 130,000 more viewers to be exact.
With all that, the NFL is a local game as much as it is coast-to-coast and the local markets looked strong for the 32-team league – as you can see below:
The host market was also the highest local market across ESPN, @ABCNetwork & @nflnetwork
Top 15 markets ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/kOHqpKFBeP
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) April 30, 2021
As for the ongoing shellacking of the Oscars …maybe some studio or streamer needs to make a pro-football film next year. Couldn’t hurt.
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