First round gets huge ratings

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The NFL’s decision to move the draft back two weeks this season drew almost unanimous derision in a poll of PFT Planet and it wasn’t hard to find similar opinions being presented around the country recently.

People may not have liked the change, but it certainly didn’t stop them from watching the first round on Thursday night. ESPN announced in did a 6.8 overnight rating for the first round, the top rating for a first round in the network’s history and an almost 50 percent increase over viewership from last year. Adding NFL Network numbers makes for an 8.64 preliminary rating that also represents a steep increase over last year.

Those numbers will certainly be cited often by the league if they choose to keep the draft in the first week of May or push it even further into the month, although a deeper look suggests they may want to find a way to make Johnny Manziel eligible for the draft again in 2015. Cleveland was ESPN’s highest-rated market on the night while the highest rated 15 minutes of the night came when Dallas was on the clock with Manziel still available.

Manziel won’t be in the draft again next year whenever they choose to hold it, of course, and that might mean a lower rating. It isn’t going to mean a low rating, though, and the extended time may allow the league to find narratives each year that guarantee the extra waiting time doesn’t result in less interest.

76 responses to “First round gets huge ratings

  1. and this is the problem..we complain and cry about the draft start, yet its the highest rated program…thats why the NFL does what they do, they know people are gonna watch anyway.

  2. The Minnesota Vikings Dynasty is playing out exactly how I predicted.

    How many times did I tell you guys we were taking Bridgewater?

    How many times did I tell you guys the Vikings would steal a first round defensive player?

    We are destined for greatness. A Lombardi trophy awaits.

    Let the purple and gold confetti fall.

  3. I love football… but… I am not afraid to admit/state that the NFL Draft coverage is a boring waste of time (except for the 5 seconds before my team picks and the 5 seconds during/after my team picks).

  4. It had it all…. weird beauty pageant announcer, extensive booing of Roger Goodell, the last 2 remaining Bills fans in captivity, green room Johnny Manziel sweating bullets and then putting on a sick grin whenever someone kicked him under the table to let him know the camera was on him again. Only thing missing was a patented NFL momentum shifting power outage at a critical moment in a team’s pick.

  5. This is where the NFL’s thinking is skewed. Its not about the ratings and who watches. Its about having the draft after teams have already started off-season programs. Its about the product.

  6. I really wish they would have Gruden on the NFL Network and get rid of Faulk, Irvin and Mariucci. Just have Eisen, Gruden, and Mayock on there. That would be an awesome show.

  7. I love every part of the draft. BTW, where are all the people calling mayock an idiot for saying manziel would slide out of the top 15? Mayock is easily the best draft analyst out there.

  8. I’m a football nut, I would watch the draft if it were in april may or june. I’d still complain it doesn’t come soon enough, but you bet your ass I’m watching.

  9. Why even have a draft ? All that’s needed is an application and resume’ like everybody else, (and maybe a demo dvd). All teams offer these traditional methods of employment already.

  10. Seattle easily won the first round of the draft. Great move picking up extra picks. That’s what championship organizations do. 2nd place organizations like SF reach for 2nd round talent safeties.


  11. Just move the draft to August.
    Give the guys a few minutes to get ready for the 1 preseason game. Then the 19 regular season games.

    And then have all but 4 teams make the playoffs.

    And then have 6 Europe teams

    And then have games on Wednesdays

    And then have games on Tuesdays

  12. It would be kinda neat if they held a contest to see who could get the 1st round of the draft as correct as possible. You could get points for each player you correctly pick to be taken in the first round and double points for matching him with the team that selects him. For a tiebreaker, pick the number of total trades in the first round. The winner gets to head to next years draft and announce the first pick. Plus you should get an escalade…but not confined to pink.

  13. Anyone else shocked to see Barry Sanders shilling for Madden? I have to assume the NFL knew he was going to do it and received money for the plug.

    It was beneath him.

    Get ready for a sponsorship of each spot next year “and the #2 pick in the 2015 draft brought to you by Exlax …”

  14. For those of you saying it’s boring–I love it. I love watching the dreams come true, especially in the first round.

  15. What was Seattle thinking, they had a chance to pick a stud of a receiver in Marquis Lee to replace Golden Tate and instead traded out…..sorry they dropped the ball big time there.

  16. Rating during a sweeps month is the only reason the NFL moved the draft into May. Same with the Super Bowl in February. Sweeps. Fans be damned.

  17. And somewhere, Mark Cuban is punching his pillow with a ferocity of 1,000 piranhas.

  18. I’m okay with the draft in May as long as the hype will start two to three weeks later!!

  19. That sounds all great but you miss the point completely………..look at the dip in ratings for the NFL Channel, ESPN etc for the past 2-4 weeks as NFL Draft exhaustion took hold…..I for one will be certainly changing my viewing habits for 2015…I may watch the first round….but avoid all the pre-draft build up all together

  20. I think the popularity of the NFL draft started to go up after the movie Blindside. People who have never watched it before started to watch it.

  21. I hope tonight isn’t another Johnny Football ass kiss session. Had to keep changing the channel. Watching someone walk through the crowd or sitting in a back hall way not my idea of great coverage.

  22. If norv turner wasn’t the Vikings o coordinator do you think the Vikings would have taken manziel? Perhaps he just didn’t fit the scheme? There were rumors the Vikings did try and trade back up for manziel but couldn’t get it done.

  23. “I’m fully convinced these high ratings were due to one player…and thats Manziel. This kid is going to cause sellouts in Cleveland and has HOF potential”

    Jon Gruden

  24. So why isn’t everyone crying about Manziel and his media circus? Wasn’t that the problem with Tim Tebow?

  25. Loved the shot of the Eagle fan when they announced that they took Marcus Smith….who?

    He acted like they took Jason Schmidlap from Alcorn State.

  26. TOO BAD the weekend ratings wont be so good, idiot Goodell can’t see that people have to work Monday thru Friday staying up that late on a school night just isn’t worth it & having the big show on the weekend would work so much better for MORE ratings!!! What do ANY of the fans know in idiot Goodell’s eyes??? Funny how he gets booed every begining of the draft cus he stinks!!!

  27. “Seattle easily won the first round of the draft. Great move picking up extra picks. ”

    They got ONE extra pick. A fourth rounder. Big deal. They gave up their first for a second and a fourth.

  28. 1) Seattle knew that the Vikings were going QB, so Lee is still on the board
    2) Of the 7 teams picking in front of them 3 don’t need a WR (Atlanta, Washington, and Tampa), 2 need a QB (Houston and Oakland). Cleveland and Jacksonville both could use WR help, but both also could go to other needs (Jacksonville desperately needs pass rush for instance) Meaning of the WR talent left Seattle will have pick of the top 3, given how many teams passed on Lee he may still be there and they may take the 1st WR in the 2nd.
    3) They have ammo to move up if need be

    I wouldn’t assume Seattle has Lee as high on their draft broad as you do; the man was passed over 32 times. When there is smoke their is usually fire, Seattle may have made the best decision avoiding Lee in the first.

  29. I’m a third shifter, so I slept through most of the first round. As soon as I got up though, I watched a recap show and was on pft all night at work. Does that still make me a bad person? I’m curious how many people watched the draft after all of the complaining, so thumbs up if you watched it and thumbs down if you didn’t. And please, BE HONEST!

  30. I watched the whole first round but i have to admit i was bored out of my mind. Its to long between pics, then when it said the pic was in, it took GODdell another several minutes to announce it. I will only watch the first 10 pics tonight then read about the rest of the draft on Sunday. BEST part of the night was the BOOS every time GODdell walked on stage.

  31. I’m a Browns fan and I don’t like the Manziel pick. I did like the Weeden pick so that may spell success for the Browns. I do think The Bills gave the Browns way too much for the number four pick, regardless of who they got. On a side note, the Browns always sell out their games so they didn’t need the ticket sales angle.

  32. I’ve grown so tired of hearing draft speculation I couldn’t stand listening to the pre-pick build up. Only tuned in for the pick and sometimes for the clips that followed. Confirmed for me again that all the so called draft experts with their mock drafts are guesses, just better educated than any of us could have done, but still guesses.

  33. Would somebody get B. Sanders a foot stool please? I thought the late Gary Coleman was doing a Madden plug. Very disturbing.

  34. Mayock was OBVIOUSLY getting the picks fed to him. He didn’t get one wrong. Nobodies that good.

    It’s just annoying to listen to him act like he’s so smart, when in reality somebody is giving him the picks in his earpiece.

  35. They have stuck the draft this year in the middle of the NBA and NHL payoffs. Usually I watch the draft but last night the Bruins were playing the Canadiens in a crucial game that went to. overtime with the Bruins pulling it out. What do you think I chose to watch, Roger?

  36. As a fan of the players, who doesn’t follow college ball at all, the preseason and the draft are when I get to know them a bit. So missing the first 24 picks last night bums me out a bit.

  37. I’m excited to see if Goodell can find a way to extend the draft from Thursday through Monday night next year and increase ad revenue by maybe up to an additional 36%!

  38. The hype leading up to the draft is horrible. I haven’t watched any of it, as I have never heard of most of the guys they are talking about anyway, and I don’t really care. I follow the Badgers, and that’s it. Not really a huge fan of College Football, too predictable in my book. Anyway, I turned the TV to NFL Network (can’t stand ESPN), and watched other programs on DVR. Every 25-40 minutes I’d switch to NFL network rewind it a bit to see who was drafted, checked where the Packers were slated and moved along. Watched the Packers pick live, then turned it off for the evening.

  39. Didn’t watch it at all.

    Had the hockey playoffs on and checked the draft maybe 3 times all evening on my iPad to see who’d been taken.

    Watching the draft is slightly more exciting than watching paint dry.

  40. I actually feel bad for Vikings fans this year. Barr was a huge reach and should have gone around 20, Bridgewater is a joke. Have fun watching Cassel

  41. The problem is the ratings are for a multitude or reasons, not least of which is the continuing year in and year out increase of popularity of the NFL.

    Thus the problem is in the NFL ASSUMING that the reason for this or that is because of THEIR decisions.

    A rising tide lifts all boats, and a captain who thinks it’s all based on his leadership why the boat is lifting would be a moron.

    This is what the NFL and many other idiots around the world do. They make incorrect attributions that the change they saw was due to their decisions.

  42. The ratings increase, is not because it is in May, they would have been the highest ratings they have ever received if it was still the last weekend in April. Football is just that popular…..Doesn’t matter WHEN it is on, just that it IS on.

  43. the tipping picks got annoying. I mute it at 2 minutes knowing they get the pick and gladly pretend they didn’t with a really successful 2nd guess.

    The product is just great. I mean, that is a fantastic TV event. its high drama, its football, its all that we love. I LOVE this bleep. LOVE it. as much as Mayock and Schefter and Kiper. and I know so many others do as well. so until they just mutilate the quality of the NFL to the point where there is no reason to watch…I will watch it

    and I hate that, because it really should be in April. we all know this. NFL just needs to throw a bone to those of us who simply don’t want to change the schedule.

  44. I will say that as good as the draft is, and all of it is just great as it gets later and later watching teams make all kinds of crazy decisions in a small window…I won’t be watching pre draft coverage next year. this is the first year I turned off NFL N in the weeks up to the draft, and if they move it back a couple weeks, I may just become a big Basketball fan for March Madness/NBA Playoffs and just watch the draft when it airs. It was just such a waste of time.

    they need a spring league to fill in that void. developmental league please.

  45. I caved. Not only did I watch the entire draft but I watched about two hours of draft recap. Maybe Goodell knows me better than I know myself?

  46. Are you kidding? There will always be a narrative, and the fans gobble it up!

    The NFL is smart to drag the process out on the first couple rounds; instant social media just helps drive the excitement to new levels.

    Hey Mark Cuban, you should buy yourself an NFL team. The Draft is drawing 300% more viewers than the NBA Playoffs. (Oh, but your team was already bounced.)

  47. Mark Cuban should buy a team… THE FINS!!! Ross does not have a clue & if we can’t beat our division this year, FIRE Philbin & Ross sell this team to Cuban. At least we are filling holes that are needed so far???

  48. Anytime Dallas is on the clock the TV rating goes up, regardless of the players available. Hence why the NFL schedules primetime slots for their games even when they were 5-11 three years straight. Easiest way to spike ratings in the sports world: schedule the Cowboys to be on TV. Duh.

  49. the author says Johnny Football wont be at the draft next year but in reality he will when he cant get enough money from cleveland.

  50. I missed 2/3rds of it as I didn’t know it was on until I saw someone post on Facebook.

    My guess is that it will be down next year when they don’t have the most talked about player in the draft slip through almost the entire first round.

  51. RAY LEWIS WAS HORRIBLE!! Had nothing interesting or even intelligible to say. Why ESPN signed this criminal is beyond me…needs to go out the door with Theismann and the likes..

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