Round 1 of NFL draft draws record viewership, large Atlanta audience

The first round of the NFL draft Thursday night drew the largest viewership in the event's history, and Atlanta provided one of the top markets for the telecast.

An average audience of more than 15.6 million viewers around the country watched Round 1 across ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes and digital channels, according to figures provided Friday by the NFL. The league said that marked a 37% increase from 11.4 million viewers for the first round in 2019 and easily topped the draft’s previous record of 12.4 million viewers in 2014.

Atlanta posted the seventh-highest TV rating among the nation’s 56 metered markets for Thursday’s opening round, a combined 14.0 rating. That means 14% of homes in the Atlanta TV market watched the draft on average across the various networks.

The only metered markets with higher ratings than Atlanta were Columbus, Ohio, at 16.7, Cleveland at 15.9, Cincinnati at 15.6, Philadelphia at 15.1, Kansas City at 14.3 and Jacksonville at 14.1.

Nationally, the TV audience peaked with 19.6 million viewers from 8:45-9 p.m.

A record audience was generally expected because this year’s draft has no competition on TV from other live sports events, with both the NBA and MLB seasons shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. Fascination about the league’s first virtual draft also may have attracted viewers.

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