ESPN notes these results are still the 3rd-best in the last six years trailing only last year (Manziel) and 2010 (Tebow). On NFL Network the first-round coverage averaged 1.816 million viewers down from 2.43 million last year.
ESPN NFL Draft Telecast Ratings – Round 1 (2010-15):
via ESPN release:
Third Highest-Rated and Third Most-Viewed Opening Night Ever
Thursday night’s live ESPN telecast of the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft averaged 7,026,000 viewers and a 4.5 US rating based on fast nationals, according to Nielsen, making it the third most-viewed and third highest-rated opening day draft in ESPN’s 36 years of presenting the event (since 1980).
The 2014 NFL Draft – which included former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel falling to the 22nd pick in the first round – ranks as the highest-rated (6.1 rating) and most-viewed (9,943,000 viewers) opening night for ESPN. The 2010 draft – which included another former Heisman winner, Tim Tebow, picked at No. 25 by the Denver Broncos – ranks second (4.6 rating and 7,290,000 viewers).
Last night’s ESPN telecast peaked at a 5.4 rating and 8,446,000 viewers between 8:30-9 p.m. ET. The top 10 metered markets included Cleveland (11.4), New Orleans (8.6), Philadelphia (8.0), Columbus, Ohio (7.4), Birmingham, Ala. (7.4), Tampa-St. Petersburg (6.8), Greensboro, N.C. (6.7), Norfolk, Va. (6.6), Charlotte (6.4) and Baltimore (6.4).
WatchESPN logged 603,000 unique viewers and 31 million total minutes, up 32 percent and 16 percent, respectively, compared to Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft. It also had an average minute audience of 144,000, up 23 percent.