The 2020 NFL draft was the most watched ever, with more than 55 million U.S. viewers tuning in during the unique three-day event.
That’s a 16 percent increase from 2019, according to Nielsen figures for the coverage on ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes and digital channels.
Each day of the draft set new highs, according to a press release issued Sunday by the NFL. Thursday’s first round drew more than 15.6 million viewers (up 37 percent from 2019), while more than 8.2 million watched Rounds 2-3 on Friday (up 40 percent) and more than 4.2 million watched Rounds 4-7 on Saturday (up 32 percent).
“I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts and collaboration of our clubs, league personnel, and our partners to conduct an efficient Draft and share an unforgettable experience with millions of fans during these uncertain times,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the release.
“This Draft is the latest chapter in the NFL’s storied history of lifting the spirit of America and unifying people. In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of so many talented young men, we were pleased that this unique Draft helped shine a light on today’s true heroes – the healthcare workers, first responders, and countless others on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. We are also grateful to all those who contributed to the NFL family’s fundraising efforts.”
The draft coverage included more than 600 camera feeds from the homes of Goodell, NFL head coaches and general managers, more than 85 draft prospects, and others, including fans.
The top TV markets were Columbus, Ohio (8.8 rating), Cleveland (8.7), Philadelphia (8.6), Kansas City (8.5), Cincinnati (8.5), Atlanta (8.2), Jacksonville (8.1), Nashville (8.0), Milwaukee (7.8), Denver (7.0) and Baltimore (7.0).
In addition to the telecast, an average of 5.4 million daily viewers watched more than 46.7 million total minutes of the “Draft-A-Thon LIVE” fundraising campaign. It was streamed across several digital platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, TikTok and Reddit.
“This year’s NFL Draft clearly took on a much greater meaning and it’s especially gratifying for ESPN to have played a role in presenting this unique event to a record number of NFL fans while supporting the league’s efforts to give back,” ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said in a press release. “The success of this year’s Draft is a testament to the unprecedented collaboration across the NFL, ESPN, and The Walt Disney Co. in the midst of such a challenging time.”
To date, the NFL family has raised more than $100 million for coronavirus relief.