NFL Draft Pulls Record Ratings for Second Straight Year

Christian Wilkins of Clemson celebrates with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell 0 Getty-H 2019
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The 2019 NFL Draft was the most-watched ever — both on TV and in person, the league says.

Coverage of the three days of the draft on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and NFL Network (plus ESPN and NFL digital properties) averaged 6.1 million viewers. That's up about 11 percent from an average of 5.5 million for the 2018 draft, which was the previous high.

ABC aired all three days of the draft, the first time a single broadcast network has aired the entire selection process (Fox aired the first two nights in 2018 and ABC the final rounds on day three). The network averaged 4.54 million viewers on Thursday and about 2.6 million Friday (pending updates), up about 25 percent over Fox's numbers in 2018.

The NFL also says 600,000 people attended the draft in Nashville across all three days, including a main stage in the downtown area where the draft was held and a "Draft Experience" in the stadium where the Tennessee Titans play. That's more than twice as many people as the 250,000 who attended the 2018 draft in Philadelphia.

The league says the draft's TV "reach" figure — a measure of everyone who watched at least a couple minutes of coverage on any outlet — was 47.5 million, up 5 percent from 2018 and also an all-time high.

ESPN has aired the draft dating back to 1980 and was its sole TV home until 2006, when the then three-year-old NFL Network joined in. Fox and ABC became the first broadcast networks to air draft coverage in 2018.

The numbers for the draft follow a ratings rebound for the NFL in 2018, as regular-season games grew by 5 percent vs. the previous season and the playoffs improved by 11 percent. A low-scoring Super Bowl, however, fell by 5 percent year to year and came in under 100 million TV-only viewers for the first time in a decade.