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First-round ratings drop by two percent

NFL Draft Football

Fans sit on the main stage during the second round of the NFL football draft, Friday, April 26, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)


The NFL draft remains to be must-see TV. Even if fewer saw it than last year.

According to SportsBusiness Journal, the ratings for the first round of the draft dropped by two percent from 2018.

Last year, FOX broadcast the draft, along with ESPN and NFL Network. This year, ABC replaced FOX. And ESPN continues to be the top dog, even though three-letter broadcast networks usually outperform cable networks.

Last year, ESPN had a bigger Thursday night audience then FOX. This year, ESPN had a bigger Thursday night audience than its sister network, ABC; however, the gap was narrowed with the draft also on ABC. NFL Network again finished third.

ESPN generated an average audience of 4.864 million viewers. ABC finished with 4.539 million. NFL Network finished well behind with 1.698 million, or 15.1 percent of the total draft audience.

The total audience of 11.101 million represents a decline from last year’s 11.337 million.

It’s not a huge difference, and the NFL surely will find a way to spin it as a positive. Regardless, as the NFL tries to make everything about it bigger and bigger, any sign of decline is a cause for concern.