2018 NFL Draft Earned Highest Viewership of All Time; Averaged 5.5M Viewers

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2018

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The 2018 NFL draft was the most watched in history with an average of 5.5 million viewers, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.

The first round of the draft Thursday night featured an average of 11.2 million viewers at any time.

The major difference was the addition of Fox, which was simulcasting the NFL Network coverage. ESPN also provided coverage throughout the three-day event.

According to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic, ESPN's Day 3 simulcast on ABC contributed to a 40 percent increase from last year.

John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal broke down the viewership numbers by network from Thursday's Round 1:

In addition to the many viewing options, the draft was especially interesting this year thanks to the presence of a long list of noteworthy quarterbacks. Baker Mayfield was the first overall pick to the Cleveland Browns, but he was one of four players at the position taken in the top 10 and five in Round 1.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, only the 1983 draft featured more quarterbacks taken in the first round.

Fans were able to see potential franchise-changing moves on the first day, which is enough to keep their attention even in April.

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While ratings for NFL games declined last season, a positive draft coverage could potentially help get things back in the right direction.