The first round of the NFL draft didn’t reach the record-setting highs it did a year ago, but the multi-network coverage did draw a big audience Thursday — bigger than the Oscars, in fact.
Coverage of the draft’s first round on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network drew a combined audience of 12.52 million viewers Thursday night — about 2 million more than ABC’s Academy Awards telecast on Sunday. ESPN had the largest share of viewers with 6.48 million, while ABC brought in 4.19 million and NFL Network 1.85 million. The former two declined from a year ago while NFL Network added about 130,000 viewers.
The 12.52 million viewers for Thursday’s coverage fell short of last year’s all-time high for the first round — fueled by being the first major sports-related event in the early days of the pandemic — by 3.1 million viewers. It still ranks second all-time for the first night of the NFL draft, however, passing the 12.4 million who watched in 2014.
Thursday’s audience also easily beat the 11.1 million who watched on the three networks in 2019.
The three networks combined for a 4.16 rating in the key ad demographic of adults 18-49, easily lapping everything else on TV Thursday. ESPN had the best individual rating with a 2.41; ABC is at 1.05 and NFL Network at 0.7.
CBS’ Young Sheldon was the most watched show in primetime aside from the draft, bringing in 7.34 million viewers and a 0.71 in the 18-49 demographic.
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