NFL Draft sets ratings record, drains network viewers

nfl-draft-espn-320.jpgThe first round of the NFL Draft moved to primetime for 2010, and based on the ratings it will be staying there for years to come.

The draft, which aired live on ESPN and the NFL Network, had its biggest audience ever Thursday (April 22). Between the two networks, the draft averaged 8.3 million viewers (7.3 million on ESPN and 1 million on NFL Network) -- more than most of what aired on broadcast TV for the night. Only CBS' lineup ("Survivor," "CSI" and "The Mentalist") and FOX's "Bones" drew more viewers.

The NFL says a combined 23.3 million people caught at least a few minutes of the first round. ESPN also says it led the night among adults 18-49, adults 18-34 and all male demographics.

It also appears that the draft took a good-sized bite out of the broadcast networks Thursday night. NBC's comedies, which have decent-sized followings among young men, were particularly hard-hit: "Community," "The Office" and "30 Rock" (which aired two episodes) were all well below their season averages in both viewers and adults 18-49. CBS' and FOX's shows were also below average in the demo.

The draft had previously aired on weekend afternoons and evenings; last year's coverage of the first round averaged a combined 6.3 million viewers.

The NFL draft continues with rounds 2 and 3 tonight and rounds 4 through 7 on Saturday.

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Photo credit: ESPN
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