The NFL's decision to put the draft on network television for the first time ever paid off in a big way this year.
The league's three-day draft came away with the highest television ratings for any NFL Draft ever. Overall, there was an average of 5.5 million viewers watching the draft at any given time, which led to a 3.57 household rating. The 2018 numbers were a 25 percent increase over last year's rating and a 20 percent increase over the average viewership for 2017.
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The huge numbers are definitely good news for the NFL, especially after the league watched its regular season television ratings fall in each of the past two seasons.
One of the reason's this year's draft was able to put up such huge ratings is because the NFL decided to put the event on network television for the first time ever. After years of only putting the draft on ESPN and the NFL Network, the league decided to let both Fox and ABC televise the draft this year. Fox aired the first three rounds of the draft on Thursday and Friday, and then ABC took over by televising the final four rounds of the draft on Saturday. All seven rounds were televised on both ESPN/ESPN2 and the NFL Network.
The one record this year's draft didn't break was total viewers for Round 1. During Thursday's wild first round that saw a total of five quarterbacks taken, a total of 11.2 million viewers tuned in. Although that was the second highest viewership total of any round in draft history, it didn't top the Johnny Manziel draft. In 2014, a total of 12.4 million viewers tuned in to Round 1 to watch Manziel fall to the back half of the first round.