On Friday, the NFL announced that the first round of the Draft shattered viewership records from previous years, grabbing 15.6 million eyeballs. During peak-viewership, approximately 19.6 million people were watching.
The event featured NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell broadcasting team picks from his house in New York, while socially distant talking heads covered the news, and cameras caught player reactions as they were chosen. It was broadcast across multiple platforms, including ABC, ESPN, and the NFL Network, and a simultaneous charity event called the “Draft-A-Thon” also garnered more than 7 million viewers, reports ESPN.
The former high mark, according to ESPN, came in 2014 when the Draft managed 12.4 million viewers.
As reported by NFL.com’s Judy Battista, Commissioner Roger Goodell said of the event: “People were looking forward to it; it went way beyond interest in football … It struck a chord with people. I think, I hope, it sounds like we struck the right tone of recognizing health care workers and first responders while keeping the focus on football.”
The Draft had to make major changes this year as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, which has led to the deaths of more than 50,000 Americans as of publication.
As for the new format, Goodell noted that there were some nerves going into the night: “But you always have your hesitations, your concerns. I know how important this is to the clubs. If we had come out of this where they didn’t have time to make trades or if something operationally went wrong … but we heard zero of that. People were making a big deal of that, making a big deal of, is it really the right time to do this kind of event.”
The final night of the NFL Draft is on Saturday.
NFL.com writes of the charity event: “In addition to raising funds, Draft-A-Thon LIVE will pay tribute to healthcare workers, first responders, and others on the front lines of the battle with COVID-19 over the next two days of the draft. To date, the NFL family has raised more than $85 million in COVID-19 relief.”
In a statement, Goodell said that “the theme of hope is always prevalent in the NFL, especially with regard to the Draft.”
In 2020, that’s especially true, as we help honor healthcare workers, first responders, and others on the front lines of the battle with COVID-19 while giving our fans something to cheer about as we celebrate the next generation of NFL stars. We are thrilled so many people were able to join us last night and we thank them for helping support the Draft-A-Thon.
Notable picks from the Draft include Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and USC’s Austin Jackson for the Miami Dolphins, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb for the Cowboys, South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw for the 49ers, and Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III for the Raiders, reports CBS Sports.
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