May 9 2014, 10:38pm CDT | by Forbes
Maybe it was because Johnny Manziel slipped all the way to #22 before the Cleveland Browns selected him. Maybe it’s because, well… it’s the National Football League, a behemoth in the sporting world. Whatever the case even, going up against the second-round NBA playoff games, the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft was not only a ratings hit, it was a touchdown of epic proportions.
Based on data from The Nielsen Company, ESPN and the NFL Network drew a combined total viewership of 32.0 million viewers (a “viewer” defined by the rating was one that watched part of the Draft for at least 1 minute). That 32 million figure ranks this year’s Round 1 of the NFL Draft as the most-watched ever, up 28% from last year’s total of 25 million.
In terms of total coverage, the combined ESPN/NFLN coverage also averaged a record 12.4 million viewers, ranking as the most-watched first round ever topping 2010 (8.3 million viewers). The NFL Draft was the most-watched program on cable and the second most-watched program on television Thursday night (The Big Bang Theory, CBS).
The NFL Network’s first-round coverage drew a record average of 2.4 million viewers – a 60% increase over last year’s previous record (1.5 million viewers).
In terms of digital platforms, which included NFL.com and NFL Mobile for Verizon, there were 14 million visits, a 54% increase over 2013. NFL Mobile from Verizon had a year-over-year increase in visits of 168% percent. NFL.com users averaged 29 minutes per visit on desktop, up 16 percent over 2013.
How much did the Draft consume social media via Twitter? According to Nielsen Social Guide, more than 11 million people saw more than seven million total tweets about the Draft last night, up 347% from 2013.
Follow Maury Brown on Twitter @BizballMaury
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