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45.4 million watched the draft

Last year, nearly 40 million people watched the draft when it was confined to Saturday and Sunday. This year, the number shot up by more than five million, thanks to the new three-day format.

In all, more than 45.4 million people watched at least one minute of the draft on NFL Network, ESPN, and/or ESPN2.

Over the past nine years, that number has mushroomed. In 2001, only 23.5 million watched at least a sliver of the draft.

The magnitude of the numbers indicates that the new prime-time approach likely is here to stay.