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2022 NFL Draft Draws 31.9 Million Television Viewers

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Social Media
May 13, 2022
June 21, 2022
 min read

Few events on the annual NFL calendar inspire more hope among football franchises and their fans than the draft. For one weekend every April, those connected to each organization in capacities ranging from decision-maker to season-ticket holder have reasons to be excited about players they hope will one day be the foundation of a Super Bowl-winning team. Thousands of enthusiasts flock to the draft site to cheer on their picks, jeer their rivals’ selections, and satiate their football cravings during a months-long offseason. But millions more follow the draft on television from their homes or watch parties across the country, while also sharing immediate opinions on social media throughout the three-day event. We used MVP’s broadcast and social platforms to gain an understanding of how football fans consume the annual spectacle by comparing viewership trends across ABC, ESPN, and NFL Network and also compiling social media metrics from Day 1 of the draft on April 28th through May 1, a full day after its conclusion. Our broadcast measurement revealed 31.9 million households watched at least some portion of the proceedings, with ABC leading the way as the draft commenced.

ABC Is No. 1 Pick, ESPN Has Most Upside

Since 2010, the draft’s opening night has been a primetime broadcast event featuring only the first of seven rounds. In recent years, coverage has evolved to include three networks showcasing the selections, player interviews, and commentary – each with its own set of reporters and analysts. The NFL owned the night this year across ABC, ESPN, and NFL Network, with fans having the option to choose their preferred method of learning about the 2022 draft class. Broadcasts began at 8 p.m. EST with the Jacksonville Jaguars on the clock. For much of the program’s first 20 minutes, more than 4 million households were concurrently tuned to ABC, peaking at 4.14 million at 8:01 p.m. In total, the network boasted 8.2 million viewers during the three-and-a-half-hour opening round, significantly more than ESPN and NFL Network, which totaled 4.92 million and 1.14 million, respectively, throughout the evening. The networks’ collective 14.26 million viewers during the round equaled 45% of all NFL Draft viewers this year. Though figures dipped for second- and third-round coverage on Friday, April 29 as the three networks combined to earn 7.78 million viewers, minute-to-minute trends were similar with ABC leading ESPN by a wide gap and NFL Network trailing the Worldwide Leader in Sports by a similar margin. But on Saturday, when ABC ceased pick-by-pick coverage – leaving ESPN and NFL Network alone in their draft analysis – ESPN rebounded to a total of 8.97 million viewers, most among the three networks for a single day. Meanwhile, NFL Network drew only 909,587 viewers throughout the final four rounds.

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Early Jets, Giants Picks Boost NY Audience

As the results of previous trades, the New York Giants and New York Jets each had two picks among the first 10 selections in the first round. Anticipation for the selections that could potentially change the trajectory of both franchises spiked excitement in the New York City market, as 2.09 million fans throughout the region watched coverage of the draft, roughly 6.5% of its total viewership. New York City’s concurrent viewership peaked during the first hour of Round 1, with as many as 515,506 households tuned in to either ABC, ESPN, or NFL Network. Los Angeles – home to the reigning Super Bowl champion Rams and budding contender Chargers – ranked second among designated market areas in total viewers with 1.55 million across the three days. Philadelphia and Dallas-Fort Worth were the only other markets to exceed 1 million total viewers, with 1.42 million and 1.19 million, respectively. Overall, the 30 DMAs with an NFL team combined to generate 17.66 million viewers – 55.3% of the total for the weekend.

Teams Tout Incoming Rookies on Social

Immediately after selections are announced on stage at the NFL Draft, teams share the news with their fans on social media. Furthermore, they offer a range of features including instant reactions and behind-the-scenes glimpses into the draft process throughout the weekend. Such an abundance of content resulted in 7,078 posts on NFL teams’ owned Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube platforms from April 28 to May 1. Their collective post value was $14.97M, with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants earning the top three spots in our value rankings. The same three organizations – in the same order – led all others in terms of impressions, as the league total surpassed 820.7 million. Meanwhile, the Giants and Philadelphia Eagles leapfrogged the Cowboys’ engagements total to secure second and third place in the category, respectively, with the league combining to earn 28.5 million during the period.

Countdown to Opening Kickoff

With the NFL Draft in the rearview mirror and many players already having signed rookie contracts, clubs are preparing for organized team activities later this month followed by training camp and preseason games in the not-too-distant future. The NFL is ever-increasingly becoming a year-round league, with fans continuing to debate winners and losers from the draft while anxiously awaiting on-field action to resume. Meanwhile, organizations are continuing to build and grow with hopes of one day hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Stay connected with MVP in the coming weeks for a comprehensive look at the National Football League through broadcast and social lenses over the course of a full year – from last postseason through this year’s draft – complete with team, market, network, and platform comparisons, among other insights.

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