This year’s NFL Draft will draw more television coverage than ever before.
The NFL announced today that FOX will show the first three rounds of the draft and ABC will show Rounds 4-7, meaning the entire draft will air on broadcast television for the first time ever. That’s in addition to the traditional ESPN and NFL Network broadcasts, a new alternate broadcast on ESPN2, and a Spanish broadcast on ESPN Deportes.
FOX will simulcast NFL Network’s coverage, with FOX lead analyst Troy Aikman joining the broadcast for the first time. ESPN will have its usual broadcast in addition to a college-themed broadcast on ESPN2, and ABC will simulcast the ESPN draft show on the last day of the draft.
With all that TV coverage, this year’s NFL draft will almost certainly be the most-watched ever. It will also garner the highest attendance ever at the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.
The NFL has strategically positioned the draft as the major event of its offseason and the primary reason that football is essentially a year-round sport. ESPN helped the NFL build up the draft, but when FOX agreed to join with NFL Network’s coverage, that put a dent in ESPN’s draft dominance. Now ESPN is pushing back by pouring additional resources into the event. With two broadcast networks and four cable networks airing the draft, it’s now bigger than ever.