A record 39 million viewers spent at least part of their weekend watching ESPN, ESPN2 and NFL Network's coverage of the pro football league's draft.
The total audience for the 2009 NFL Draft increased 6.8% from 36.5 million in 2008 and tops the record of 38 million viewers set in 2007, according to Nielsen Media Research data. Total NFL Draft audience jumped 66% from 2001 to 2009, from 23.5 million to 39 million, according to the NFL.
A look at the scorecards shows that ESPN and ESPN2 attracted a record 36.7 million to its 15.5 hours of coverage on April 25 and 26, 5% above than the 34.8 million who watched the 2008 version of the college football cattle call. The total was 400,000 more than the 36.3 million the two networks tackled in 2006.
ESPN, which covered the event's first- and second-rounds on April 25, averaged a 4.0 household average and 3.89 million households from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., 3% gains in both measures from a 3.9 rating and 3.79 million households.
NFL Network officials said the league's in-house service amassed 6.8 million watchers during its two days of draft coverage.
The strong numbers have encouraged the NFL to consider, spreading the 2010 draft over three days, beginning with primetime plays on Thursday and Fridays, followed by the conclusion on Saturday.