May 2, 2008 11:18 AM
The shortened off-season staple of the NFL, the NFL draft, produced mixed results for the two companies broadcasting the event, ESPN and NFL Network.
A truncated opening day, due to a shorter amount of time between picks, saw TV critics praising the move, which prevented the affair from becoming a marathon. Fans in attendance clearly loved the brisk pace of the program.
From a broadcast standpoint, however, the first round of the draft produced a small thump from a business point of view. With the draft moved from noon to 3 p.m. to take advantage of higher audiences later in the day, and teams given only 10 minutes to make their first-round pick in the interest of speeding up the proceedings, the reduced commercial inventory was a drawback to the revised draft.
From a ratings perspective on Saturday, ESPN’s draft rating was down 6% compared with 2007, scoring a 3.4 rating/8 share vs. a 3.6/10. In the demos, the outlet saw losses among men 18-49 and men 25-54, but it was up sharply among men 18-34. Ratings for the NFL Network were flat at a 0.3/1, although the league-owned channel showed growth among men 25-54.
On Sunday, where the league moved round three of the selection process and subsequently made the day more interesting, ESPN was up 7% from 2007, with growth in all three key demographics. NFL Network held even again at a 0.2 and rated higher among men 18-49 and men 25-54.