NFL Draft 2020: Round 1 Breaks All-Time Viewership Records

Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft has come and gone, and it looked like it was a big success. On Friday, the NFL announced Round 1 coverage of the draft established new records for media consumption. An average of over 15.6 million viewers watched the first night across ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, and digital channels. The previous high was 12.4 million viewers in 2014.

"The theme of hope is always prevalent in the NFL, especially with regard to the Draft," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press release. "In 2020, that's especially true, as we help honor healthcare workers, first responders, and others on the front lines of the battle with COVID-19 while giving our fans something to cheer about as we celebrate the next generation of NFL stars. We are thrilled so many people were able to join us last night and we thank them for helping support the Draft-A-Thon."

All seven rounds of the draft will air on ABC, ESPN, and the NFL Network. It's the second consecutive year The Walt Disney Company is working with the NFL to broadcast the draft. One reason the viewership was so high was the fact of the coronavirus pandemic is currently going on, and this is the first draft that's all virtual. The coverage peaked from 8:45 p.m. ET with 19.6 million viewers. The top 10 metered markets were Columbus, Ohio (16.7), Cleveland (15.9), Cincinnati (15.6), Philadelphia (15.1), Kansas City (14.3), Jacksonville (14.1), Atlanta (14.0), Charlotte (13.1), Denver (12.8) and (tied) Nashville and Milwaukee (12.7).


"It definitely was full steam ahead," Goodell said to Judy Battista of when talking about draft night. "But you always have your hesitations, your concerns. I know how important this is to the clubs. If we had come out of this where they didn't have time to make trades or if something operationally went wrong ... but we heard zero of that. People were making a big deal of that, making a big deal of, is it really the right time to do this kind of event."

The first night of the draft started off with Joe Burrow being drafted No. 1 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. However, the biggest surprise came towards the end of the night when the Green Bay Packers drafted Utah State quarterback ,Jordan Love, which could mean Aaron Rodgers is now on the clock.