The first NFL Draft held in Las Vegas was supposed to bring the excitement and sizzle of “Sin City” to the first round of the league’s annual draft.
He does not have.
NFL first-round viewership dropped 20% Thursday night. Down 34% from the virtual 2020 draft held at the height of the pandemic.
According to Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports:
Thursday’s combined first-round coverage on ABC and ESPN from The Walt Disney Co. and the league’s NFL Network averaged 10.03 million viewers, down 20% from 12.5 million. last year, according to Sports TV Ratings and other reports.
That number was 34% below the record 15.3 million viewers who tuned in to the “virtual” 2020 draft at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the glamorous Las Vegas setting, it was the lowest figure since an average viewership of 9.2 million for ESPN and NFLN’s first-round coverage in 2017.
Does the sudden and dramatic crash signal a decline in fan interest? This is probably not the case. The 2022 draft was an oddity in that no big-name quarterbacks were to be selected in the first round. In fact, a quarterback wasn’t taken until pick 20.
Another factor that hurt the ratings was that ten teams didn’t make a first-round pick. An unusually high number after several large deals last year and this offseason. With the lack of marquee quarterbacks, teams have opted to fill defensive needs, and defense, well, just doesn’t sell.