Tuesday December 5, 2023

NFL Draft Could Be Another TV Ratings Smash

  • ABC, ESPN, and the NFL Network are planning wall-to-wall TV coverage of the 2021 NFL Draft.
  • The 2020 draft reached 55 million viewers over three days.
NFL/Design: Alex Brooks
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Coming off the most-watched NFL Draft ever, ABC, ESPN, and the NFL Network are planning wall-to-wall TV coverage of the 2021 NFL Draft, which runs from April 29 to May 1.

There will be two nights of prime-time coverage of Rounds 1-3 on Thursday and Friday nights, followed by daytime coverage of Rounds 4-7 on Saturday. 

The 2020 draft reached 55 million viewers over three days and saw average audiences across ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, NFLN, and digital channels grow 35% to 8.4 million viewers. Last year’s first round had an average audience of over 15.6 million viewers, breaking the previous high of 12.4 million viewers in 2014.

Kirk Herbstreit will headline ABC’s draft coverage this year, sources tell Front Office Sports. ABC’s broadcast focuses more on the personal journeys of draft prospects.

Herbstreit’s “College GameDay” castmates Rece Davis, Desmond Howard, David Pollack, Maria Taylor, and Jesse Palmer have joined him for all or part of ABC’s coverage the past two years. They’re each expected to return. 

While draft guru Todd McShay is expected to play a big part in ABC’s coverage, Mike Greenberg will make his debut as host of ESPN’s more X’s and O’s-oriented coverage. Greenberg succeeds Trey Wingo, who anchored ESPN’s coverage the past four years.

This year’s draft will be held in Cleveland and select fans from all 32 teams will be on hand, but must be vaccinated. As in years before the pandemic, there will be a live “Draft Experience” featuring entertainment, musical performances, and other attractions.

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