5:03pm PT by Rick Porter
ABC Joins ESPN, NFL Network for 2019 NFL Draft
The NFL is returning to ABC — not in primetime in the fall, but for a couple of nights in the spring.
The network will televise all three days of the 2019 NFL Draft, taking over the broadcast-net component of coverage from Fox, which aired this year's draft. ESPN and NFL Network will also offer their usual wall-to-wall coverage of next year's draft, which will take place in Nashville.
"ESPN is constantly seeking opportunities to innovate and expand our coverage of major events, and the NFL Draft is a perfect example of that," ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said Monday in a statement. "There is no better way to celebrate 40 years of working with the NFL to grow the draft than to bring the considerable assets of The Walt Disney Company to Nashville. With ESPN networks and platforms, and the addition of ABC as the exclusive broadcast home to the draft, we will bring more resources than ever before as we introduce fans to the next generation of NFL players."
ABC will air primetime coverage of the draft on Thursday, April 25 (first round) and Friday, April 26 (second and third rounds). As it did this year, the network will simulcast ESPN's coverage of rounds four through seven on Saturday, April 27.
Fox aired the first two nights of the 2018 NFL Draft in April, drawing 3.74 million viewers for round one and just over 2 million for rounds two and three. ESPN averaged 5.34 million and 2 million for those two days, while NFL Network came in at 2 million and 1.15 million. The addition of a broadcast network helped all three days of coverage average 5.5 million viewers, a 20 percent bump over 2017.
ABC's draft coverage will be anchored by ESPN's College GameDay team and focus on the personalities and personal stories of draft picks and the "spectacle" of the draft — including live music. ESPN and NFL Network will offer more football-centric analysis of team needs and other factors for hard-core fans.
"The addition of broadcast television for all three days of the 2018 NFL Draft helped to bring this important offseason event to even more fans and resulted in the highest rated and most viewed draft ever," said Brian Rolapp, chief business and media officer for the NFL. "We're looking forward to once again broadcasting all three days of the NFL Draft and excited to have another member of the Disney family with us to help grow this event and showcase the future stars of the NFL."