The National Football Leagues decision to air the draft on three networks paid off, scoring the league the highest ratings and audience ever for coverage of the annual NFL Draft.
For the first time, the draft during its three-days of coverage appeared on the NFL Network, Fox Sports and ESPN, airing on six channels (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, Fox, ABC and the NFL Network).
The multiple broadcasts drew the largest draft audience in history, averaging 5.5 million viewers and an average in combined coverage of 3.57 in household ratings over the three days, according to Sporting News Monday.
ARLINGTON, TX – APRIL 26: Josh Allen of Wyoming poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #7 overall by the Buffalo Bills during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Those numbers are up 20 percent in viewership over 2017s numbers and up 25 percent in household ratings. Typically day one with first round draft picks and big name players draws the highest viewer turn out and fades as the draft gets to the later rounds. But this year the audience barely dropped off with the third day of draft coverage scoring its highest viewership ever, scoring an average of 2.9 million viewers on Saturday.
The first night of coverage drew a 7.0 in household ratings with 11.2 million viewers Thursday night. That night was up by 27 percent in the ratings over the year before and up 22 percent in total audience numbers from 2017.
The ratings boost for the draft comes following a difficult year for the NFL which saw the ratings for the 2017 regular season drop by 9.7 percent amid national anthem protests.