3:23pm PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: NFL Draft Steals Sweep Thunder With 7.7 Million Viewers
The NFL Draft proved a huge draw on Thursday night.
The first round of the picks for the upcoming football season, which aired live on ESPN and the NFL Network, brought a cumulative 7.7 million-viewer average across both networks.
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Of the two Radio City Music Hall telecasts, ESPN had the edge, averaging 6.2 million viewers starting at 8 p.m. NFL brought in 1.5 million. Nielsen estimates that a total of 20 million viewers tuned in to either broadcast at one point during the draft.
Among adults 18-49, EPSN's 2.9 rating topped all broadcast and cable for the night -- with the exception of CBS' The Big Bang Theory. Though the draft was relatively steady with its 2012 performances on both networks, ESPN did see a dip in the demo. Last year it averaged a 3.3 rating. (NFL scored a much smaller, if even, demo score with a 0.7 rating.)
Attention to the draft did not help the broadcast networks. The first night of the May sweep brought series lows for several -- American Idol, The Office, Two and a Half Men -- and season lows for others.
Coverage of the 78th annual draft continues Friday and Saturday.