Uncertainty Over NFL Draft Picks add Suspense, but may Hurt Show’s Ratings

2013 NFL Draft

(from Sports Business Journal, April 22-28, 2013)¬†With the up and coming NFL draft, suspense is building regarding the selections of the NFL teams. However, with a small amount of big names in this year’s draft, television ratings may take a significant hit. According to sports television consultant, Neal Pilson, “all our data and research tells us major sports names and personalities engage our audience, create interest, and drive up ratings. Uncertainty over unknowns is not a recipe for strong ratings.”

Last year, big names such as quarterback Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, who were taken number one and two overall, attracted 8.1 million viewers. Although this year there are no quarterbacks with the caliber of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin, ESPN and NFL Network are combating the possibilities of low ratings through expanded coverage of all 32 NFL teams draft picks and approximately 20 NFL draft prospects will have cameras in their homes to provide a broader coverage of each pick. Along with the 20 NFL prospects viewing from their home, 23 prospects will be attending Radio City Music Hall in New York City for the NFL draft.

Expanded efforts by NFL Network will cover NFL club decision-makers before and after each pick. Fifteen clubs will be covered, which is an increase compared to the twelve clubs covered the previous year. Senior ESPN Coordinating Producer, Seth Markman, along with NFL Network Coordinating Producer, Charlie Yook, noted, “although there are no standout players, there are players sport fans interested in, including USC quarterback Matt Barkley, and West Virginia’s Geno Smith.” To add to interested coverage, Notre Dame linebacker Manti te’o will receive additional coverage following being the victim of a hoax involving a girlfriend who did not exist.

The NFL first started broadcasting the first round selections on Thursday night prime time in 2010. That year, they brought in 8.3 million viewers, an increase of 2 million viewers from previous year. ESPN and NFL Network will begin broadcasting the first round starting at 8 p.m. ET Thursday, April 25th. The next two rounds will air Friday at 6:30 p.m., followed by rounds four through seven on Saturday at noon on.