NEW YORK (Reuters) – The NFL Draft reached more than 55 million viewers over three days, the league said on Sunday, breaking records as the most-watched draft ever as the annual affair emerged as one of a rare few live events available to sports-hungry fans.
The average audience across all seven rounds of the draft, which were split between television presentations on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, jumped 35% over the previous year, as the draft pivoted to a “virtual” format due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts and collaboration of our clubs, league personnel, and our partners,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement.
Goodell kicked off proceedings from his basement on Thursday, as prospects learned their fate from family living rooms across the country, instead of the glitzy Las Vegas event that had to be scuttled due to social distancing guidelines.
The diminished glamour had no impact on the interest of fans, with an average audience of more than 15.6 million tuning into the first round to watch Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow selected first in a quarterback-rich field.
Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Daniel Wallis