First-round ratings drop by two percent


The NFL draft remains to be must-see TV. Even if fewer saw it than last year.

According to SportsBusiness Journal, the ratings for the first round of the draft dropped by two percent from 2018.

Last year, FOX broadcast the draft, along with ESPN and NFL Network. This year, ABC replaced FOX. And ESPN continues to be the top dog, even though three-letter broadcast networks usually outperform cable networks.

Last year, ESPN had a bigger Thursday night audience then FOX. This year, ESPN had a bigger Thursday night audience than its sister network, ABC; however, the gap was narrowed with the draft also on ABC. NFL Network again finished third.

ESPN generated an average audience of 4.864 million viewers. ABC finished with 4.539 million. NFL Network finished well behind with 1.698 million, or 15.1 percent of the total draft audience.

The total audience of 11.101 million represents a decline from last year’s 11.337 million.

It’s not a huge difference, and the NFL surely will find a way to spin it as a positive. Regardless, as the NFL tries to make everything about it bigger and bigger, any sign of decline is a cause for concern.

29 responses to “First-round ratings drop by two percent

  1. ABC’s coverage was abysmal. Useless commentators, constant insertion of things that have nothing to do with football or football players, and an insistence on appealing to people who could care less about the draft. What in God’s green earth does Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan and a “house band” have to do with the draft and NFL football?! If my household had any other option I would have turned the channel. FOX last year was superior by a very, very wide margin.

  2. Probably because it included a bunch of non-football coverage in the half an hour or so I gutted theough watching Thursday night before realizing I was better off just keeping up with the picks online and doing something more productive.

  3. Uhh Avengers Endgame came out that night. Does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that is a big reason for rating drop.

  4. You could combine the audience of the playoff hockey and basketball games that were on at the same time & the draft wins…by a lot.

  5. And yes I’d take a Marvel MCU movie over the NFL Draft every day now. The draft should be Saturday and Sunday the days football is actually played on.

  6. There’s no group of future starting QBs, everyone knew Kyler Murray was going to Arizona, and Mike Mayock is no longer in the booth. Next year the NFL should get big name QBs like Tua, Fromm, and Herbert, plus other names will probably be added through the fall to help create better ratings. It’s hard to get casual fans excited about a draft featuring a bunch of defensive linemen.

  7. ESPN ratings would have been higher without Booger! He was just as bad as he is on MNF. Unwatchable!

  8. In my area day 3 isn’t on ABC. They’s rather show E/I programming and the BOF band festival, whatever that is.

  9. Because they were all in downtown Nashville drinking and partying. Feel sorry for whichever city follows 2019.

  10. It is all about the players, the war-rooms, the teams and the fans. No one cares about Luke Bryan and the silly house band. The panels are very important. ABC was horrible simply brutal. People watching want to see analysis and obtain solid information.
    The NFL is ruining its brand.

  11. I’m really only interested in who my favorite team picks. Lol. Don’t get me wrong, I love football, but (for me) to sit and watch/listen to all of the drivel between picks is, well, boring. I can look online every 30-40 mins and catch up on what’s happening.

  12. In today’s landscape w some many ways besides cable to stream shows getting 11 million ppl to view anything on cable is a huge success. Compared to the NBA and NHL post season games on the same time the draft was on they were getting 1 million viewers while the draft on 3 ch’s combine got 11 million that’s a win

  13. One difference between this year and last year is that this year Avengers: End Game opened the same night as the draft. That’s where I was, checking my phone during the previews. Not my idea, by the way.

  14. cbj7913 says:
    Cowboys didn’t have a pick

    And they haven’t won anything in 20 plus years…nothing to see here, move along.

  15. I’ll take ABC over ESPN any day of the week because I don’t care for Booger and I absolutely can’t stand Mel(If Jimmy Clausen is not a successful quarterback in the NFL, I’m done. That’s it. I’m out) Kiper, that guy and Mayock were the worst at picking QBs that’d be successful in the NFL, Manziel, VY, Tebow and over a dozen others that didn’t make it through their rookie contracts but Kiper and Mayock claimed would be Pro-Bowlers and some they even said were “potential HoF’ers”! And then there’s the fact that even with nearly a 70% BUST rate for 1st round QBs they still think every QB drafted in the 1st round will be successful in the NFL. OH don’t get me wrong they’re great at analyzing those other positions but I won’t listen to a word they say about a QB!

  16. ESPN and ABC College Game Day Gang had much different approaches. ESPN was it’s typical draft coverage. Lots of stats and highlights of players. Lots of guessing who should be the next pick. ABC approach was the human interest angle. Not a lot of stats, not many highlights, not a lot of guessing the next pick. I watch both ABC and ESPN. I’m a big college game day fan. I started with ABC. If I wanted some highlights and stats about a player, I switched over to ESPN. I went back and forth for 2 nights. I have to admit I get a little tired of Mel Kiper and company. I’m a country music fan, but I did get tired of the Nashville. or Nashvegas, shameless advertising, especially all the country music stars who own bars. I simply didn’t care for who owns what bar. I tuned in for the draft. I didn’t mind the country music stars commenting of the draft. It beat some the the comments and arguments from the ESPN crew. I think it just depended on what style you wanted.

  17. maybe fans are sick of tuning into a sporting event and being bombarded with drama?

    Before the next selection lets take a moment to focus on dying babies who lost their fathers in combat.

    Maybe if you know people that are dying of cancer you don’t want to be reminded every 5 seconds. Maybe the draft is suppose to be an escape from the troubles in our lives?

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