While Jerry Jones might have had trouble filling out his stadium as he hosted the 2018 NFL Draft, there were plenty of people tuning in to watch veterans of a number of other clubs roast his Dallas Cowboys and their fans on their home turf. According to the NFL, last weekends event was the highest-rated and most-watched NFL Draft in history.
Now that claim does come with a pretty big caveat, as the event was featured on new networks for the first time this year. That is necessarily going to bring in a wider range of eyes. The broadcasts on FOX and ABC did boost the overall ratings pretty significantly, though ESPN’s ratings dipped.
“The 2018 NFL Draft aired on NFL Network, FOX, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, which helped increase the ratings by 25 percent and viewership by 20 percent from 2017”, the league let out yesterday in a press release.
“The [three-day] event produced strong results from start to finish. Thursday’s Round 1 coverage resulted in a combined 7.0 household rating, up 27 percent year over year, and 11.2 million viewers, up 22 percent year over year, making it the second most-watched Draft day ever”, it went on. “Saturday’s combined viewership averaged 2.9 million viewers, making it the most watched third day of the Draft ever”.
While it’s obviously good press for the NFL, as well as for their new and returning broadcasting partners both on traditional and digital platforms, the significant boost of receiving major network broadcasting takes a lot of wind out the sails for those who offer a more substantial evaluation.
The league is aware of the fact that they are in something of a fragile position right now after having seen their ratings dip over the course of the past two seasons, even if they have been consistent with or even less of a decline than what broadcast television has seen across the board thanks to more people turning away from the platform and toward other sources of entertainment, including digital and streaming alternatives.
They know that they have to monitor how things develop and cannot afford a misstep, nor suffer much negative publicity. This nice little announcement that their premiere offseason event received its highest ratings of its history is just what they were looking for after expanding to partnering with major networks.
The specific circumstances in the draft did also play a major part in why this particular year was widely-viewed, starting with the bevy of talent at the quarterback position and the variety of reports about which of them would go where. Prominent teams with major needs from valuable markets was also another distinct draw.