2020 NFL Draft shatters all-time draft record with 15.6 million viewers

By Matt Johnson
NFL/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

The NFL knew the 2020 NFL Draft would be different this year with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a fully-virtual draft with everyone staying at home. While it didn’t get to hold an incredible draft event in Las Vegas, the NFL will be more than happy after a record-setting night that saw the first round shatter previous viewership records.

Coverage for Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft, which was broadcasted across ABC, ESPN, NFL Network and ESPN Deportes drew more than 15.6 million viewers on Thursday night, shattering the league’s previous record of 12.4 million viewers in the 2014 NFL Draft.

While the experience might have been very different than everyone is used to, the NFL Draft proved to be a hit with the audience on television and digital platforms. Football fans were hyped for Joe Burrow and the No. 1 overall pick this year, further boosting a record-breaking broadcast. Among the most popular markets for the NFL Draft were Columbus, Ohio (16.7), Cleveland (15.9), Cincinnati (15.6) and Philadelphia (15.1).

The NFL’s Draft-A-Thon, streamed online to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts, also proved to be a huge hit. The first Draft-A-Thon drew seven million viewers with viewers watching more than 26 million minutes of the show. Now, thanks to the help of the NFL community and fans, the league has raised more than $85 million for COVID-19 relief.

It might not have been the event the NFL was planning for months ago, but the league is certainly elated to set new viewership records. As for Las Vegas, they’ll get another chance to have a thrilling three-day draft part when the NFL Draft returns in 2022.