Thursday, April 26, 2012
Draft Format Makes Show a TV Success
First and foremost, the draft provides something of interest for fans of every team in the most popular sports league in the United States.
It has a larger built-in audience than any regular season game. That sets a strong foundation for interest, ratings and viewership.
Last year, draft coverage on ESPN drew ratings that topped almost everything else on the all-sports network except regular season NFL games.
Beyond that, the show's format, with a pick every few minutes, provides exactly what sports fans love -- bursts of action followed by several minutes to analyze and speculate about what just happened. It's the kind of program people can consume completely, or use as background noise and pay attention in bits and pieces and still feel informed.
The show comes with known characters, too. That begins with the players who have spent a few seasons building name recognition playing college football and includes the on-air talent in the form of ESPN and NFL Network commentators who capably analyze the action.
An always opinionated and vocal audience at Radio City Music Hall should not be overlooked either. Those die-hard fans provide additional color.
Plus, the event almost annually comes with news (five trades reshaped the draft lineup in just the first 23 picks Thursday night) that generates action and reaction. And that's before teams like the Seattle Seahawks reach on a pick that drives even more angst among the analysts.
Finally, hhanks to savvy scheduling by the NFL, draft coverage can win ratings Thursday night (with the first round), Friday night (with second and third rounds) and even pull big numbers Saturday (with the fourth through seventh rounds).
It's simply solid programming, and it has earned its spot as one of the best and most-anticipated TV sports events of the season.