2020 NFL Draft Drew Record 55 Million Viewers, Raised $6.6M for COVID-19 Relief

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2020

UNSPECIFIED LOCATION - APRIL 23: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) In this still image from video provided by the NFL, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks from his home in Bronxville, New York during the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft on April 23, 2020. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

The "fully virtual" 2020 NFL draft was a massive commercial success for the league.

The league announced 55 million viewers tuned into the event over three days, setting a new record. The 8.4 million average viewers was a 35 percent increase from 2019 as well.

NFL Media @NFLMedia

@NFL @ABCNetwork @espn @nflnetwork @ESPNDeportes “Draft-A-Thon LIVE” helped raise $6.6 million during 2020 @NFLDraft, contributing to the collective total of more than $100 million raised by the NFL Family to support COVID-19 relief efforts #NFLDraft https://t.co/iruJXheBGI

Running concurrently with the draft, the NFL held a three-day fundraiser, with the proceeds going toward six charities offering aid tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. The "Draft-a-Thon" raised more than $6.6 million.

While there were obvious concerns tied to the unique format, the whole thing went smoothly, so much so that it underscored some of the more unnecessary aspects of the draft spectacle.

Jim Trotter @JimTrotter_NFL

The NFL’s virtual draft was a reality hit. Hearing from coaches and GMs that they enjoyed opportunity to be around family, even if for the brief breaks between picks. Will be interesting to see how they incorporate virtual use into day to day biz, which some would like to do.

Plus, fans got a different look at NFL coaches and general managers as they worked from home. Kliff Kingsbury's palatial home and Bill Belichick's dog were immediate viral sensations.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Some of the more memorable storylines of the first-ever virtual NFL draft: Kliff Kingsbury’s 🏠 Mike Vrabel’s 👶 Cesar Ruiz’s 😭 John Harbaugh’s 👊 Bill Belichick’s 🐶

The NFL has already lined up the next three hosts for the draft (Cleveland in 2021, Las Vegas in 2022 and Kansas City in 2023), so this was almost certainly a one-off occurrence.

But the viewership showed how the league might have inadvertently stumbled onto something with a virtual version for one of its biggest showcases.