NFL Draft Gets Cut
October 23, 2007 1:49 PM
In a reversal of recent broadcast trends, the National Football League is shortening its annual spring ball, the NFL draft. And no, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. won’t be taking a pay cut.
At a league meeting Tuesday in Philadelphia, National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the organization has streamlined the draft. The lengthy two-day affair now will feature only rounds one and two taking place on Saturday instead of three. Time allotments between picks will be reduced for the first two rounds, with clubs now allowed 10 minutes to pick their players instead of 15 and seven minutes instead of 10 for round two.
Round three will shift to Sunday for the second day of the seven-round event, with all picks remaining at five minutes each.
“We believe these changes will make for a more streamlined and efficient draft,” Mr. Goodell said.
As a result of the shortening, the NFL draft will start later, beginning at 3 p.m. EST on Saturday, while Sunday’s showcase will begin an hour earlier at 10 a.m.
Earlier in the year, speculation ran that the event was in for some changes, including a potential three-day affair that would have put the first round in prime time.
With the NFL seemingly taking every opportunity in recent years to milk a fan base that' passionate toward its programming, the move to shorten the draft is a change of pace for the organization.
The two channels broadcasting the draft, ESPN and the NFL Network, both scrambled to fill time between the picks (teams generally take every minute of their moment in the sun in the early rounds); they'll now be able to create a faster-paced affair despite losing the profitable programming time. In addition, the late start will create more drama later in the day, when more people are available to watch the event.
An ESPN representative concurred, noting the outlet was pleased with the decision. “We are happy. The shortened time between picks will create more excitement for fans.”
“This is great for the fan … the same coverage at a faster pace," said Eric Weinberger, executive producer, NFL Network. "Our directors will be busy. Mike Mayock’s brain is working on overdrive.
"All in all, we still plan to bring our viewers live pick-by-pick coverage, interviews, in-depth analysis, up-to-the-minute breaking news and information from Radio City Music Hall and all 32 team sites,” he added.
The 2007 NFL draft earlier this year scored an average 4.1 rating for ESPN, a phenomenal feat given that first-day coverage lasted eight hours; the show landed second among all cable programs for that week. The 4.1 score more than tripled the draft’s ratings from 20 years ago.
The 2008 NFL Draft will be conducted April 26-27 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and will be televised by NFL Network and ESPN.
(3:25 p.m.: Added quote from Eric Weinberger)