NFL Draft Day 1 Viewership Down From 2015; ‘Big Bang Theory’ Wins Demo


UPDATED, 1:35 PM: There will be more picks tonight, but the final numbers are in for Day 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft and it was not a win for ESPN. Down double digits from last year, the three-hour-plus broadcast of Round 1 from Chicago drew a total of 6.29 million total viewers and a 2.7 rating among adults 18-49.

While easily the top show on cable on Thursday, last night’s Draft Day 1 is down 10% in overall audience and sacked by 11% in the key demo from last year. Unlike past years, the NFL Draft was not the top show of the night on all of TV. That championship ring goes to CBS’ The Big Bang Theory in both the demo (3.4 rating) and total viewership (14.12 million). In terms of the 18-49 demo, last night’s result was the worst the draft has done since it was reformatted to a multi-day event in 2010.

Last night’s NFL Draft on ESPN falls well short of the all-time Day 1 best of 2014, as well as coming behind second place 2010 and third place 2015. Simulcast on the NFL Network, as it has been for several years, Day 1 of the Draft posted a 0.92 rating. That’s a drop of 18% in the 18-49 demo.

The peak for the 8-11:45 PM broadcast on ESPN was near the beginning but after the L.A. Rams chose Jared Goff and the Philadelphia Eagles picked Carson Wentz. The 8:30-9 PM period pulled in 7.47 million viewers and a 4.6 household rating. That’s down 12% in viewership from the peak in the same period in the Day 1 of the 2015 NFL Draft.

PREVIOUS, 8:13 AM: Day 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft was held in Chicago’s well-appointed Auditorium Theatre, but L.A. was No. 1 – literally. With the Tennessee Titans trading their rights to the first pick to the resurrected Los Angeles Rams, it was showtime on ESPN and the NFL Network. Back in the City of Angels for the first time in 20 years, the Rams snagged UC Berkeley quarterback Jared Goff to kick off the annual primetime broadcast.

Kickoff, however, did not go so well, with Day 1 of the NFL Draft scoring a 4.7 in metered-market results for ESPN, according to Nielsen. The 8-11:45 PM ET broadcast was down 8% from Day 1 of the 2015 NFL Draft, which was down significantly in early numbers from the record-breaking 2014 event. In fact, last night’s ESPN showing of Round 1 was the worst the much-hyped event has done on the cable sports giant since 2013’s NFL Draft opening day pulled in a 4.6 MM rating. For you statheads, the first day of the 2012 NFL draft had a 4.8 metered-market rating.

With the Philadelphia Eagles taking quarterback Carson Wentz of North Dakota State as the No. 2 pick of the night and Ohio State’s Joey Bosa grabbed by the San Diego Chargers as the third pick, Day 1 of the NFL Draft peaked at 9:15-9:30 PM ET with a 5.6 MM rating.

When the final numbers came in last year, Day 1 of the draft drew 7.03 million total viewers and a 3.0 rating among adults 18-49 on April 30, 2015. That was the third best a Draft Day 1 has done since the event was first broadcast on ESPN back in 1980.

The NFL Draft continues today, and we’ll update with more results as we get them. Fact, you might find interesting, ESPN and the NFL Draft  got a 1.5 MM rating in Boston. That’s way down from the 3.7 the major market had last year in Round 1. Of course, this year the New England Patriots were stripped of a Round 1 pick as part of the penalties arising from the Deflategate scandal. In the meantime, here are the Top 10 local metered market ratings from last night:

1. Cleveland (13.3)
2. Columbus (13.1)
3. New Orleans (7.8)
4. Dayton (7.7)
5. Birmingham (7.5)
6. Jacksonville (7.2)
7. Philadelphia (7.0)
8. Minneapolis-St. Paul (6.9)
9. Buffalo (6.6)
10. Nashville (6.1)

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