The NFL (National Football League) Draft's First Round TV viewership swells 20 percent–oops, it didn't. The number of viewers watching the First Round of the NFL dropped 20 percent during Thursday's night game. It was down 34 percent from the virtual Draft of 2020 held during the peak of the coronavirus.
As per Front Office Sports' Michael McCarthy, “Thursday's First Round coverage across the Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, ESPN, and the NFL Network… averaged 10.03 million viewers, which is down by 20 percent from last season's 12.5 million, as per Sports TV Ratings and other reports.”
This number was off by 34 percent compared to the previous record: the 15.3 million who watched 2020's virtual Draft during the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic. Despite the lavish setting in Las Vegas, it was the lowest number since the 9.2 million viewers on average for ESPN and NFL Network's First Round coverage in 2017.
Does the abrupt and dramatic crash indicate an ebb in interest from fans? It is unlikely. The 2022 Draft was a bit of an anomaly in the fact that there were no famous quarterbacks expected to be selected during the initial round. In reality, the quarterbacks weren't chosen until the 20th pick. Ten teams didn't make a selection at the beginning of the round–a remarkable number following numerous significant trades in the last year and the offseason. In the absence of top quarterbacks, teams have chosen to fill defensive gaps–well, it just does not sell.