New draft format proves great for ratings

The NFL draft trumped basketball, hockey during prime time. Joe Fortenbaugh

Print This April 26, 2010, 07:54 AM EST

The National Football League continues to dominate the sports landscape—despite the fact that we are still five months away from watching a meaningful game.

The early numbers are in, and if you’re the NBA, you can’t be happy.

ESPN is reporting that their network had a record-breaking 3.7 million viewers tune in for the three-day event, up 27% from last year. In addition, 2.85 million households watched the draft (second-most ever), up 24% from last year.

Even Day 3 was a ratings smash, with 10% more people tuning in to Saturday’s action this year than Sunday’s programming last year (the last day of the draft in 2009 was on a Sunday).

The drawing power of the NFL was on full display Thursday night, as the first round of the draft earned a 6.42 rating (ESPN=5.47, NFL Network=0.95). To put that in perspective, Thursday night’s first-round NBA Playoff games drew a 3.0 (Lakers vs. Thunder) and 2.1 (Cavaliers vs. Bulls).

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