Updated: NFL Drafts 16% Audience Decline On Event's First Night


The 2011 NFL Draft wasn't selected by as many viewers as last year.
ESPN and NFL Network's combined coverage for the college player allocation pool on April 28 from Cablevision's Radio City Music Hall averaged some 7 million viewers, a 16% drop from the 8.3 million who tuned in the event's initial primetime play in 2010, the event's all-time mark.
The worldwide leader took an 18% hit to some 6 million viewers, down from 7.3 million for the first round of the draft in 2010. For its part, NFL Network, in far fewer homes, edged up to 1.04 million from 1.03 million last year. The pro football league's in-house network --  which notched its best-ever draft grade with its April 28 telecast -- scored a 0.39 rating on April 29, up 3% from the corresponding night in 2010, to record its best second-day rating. The network averaged 549,000 watchers on Friday night, its second-best, second-day audience with the draft, according to network officials.

ESPN's second-day Nielsens were not available by presstime.The NFL's labor situation - commissioner Roger Goodell was booed the first few times he took the stage on Thursday night - as well as competition from Fox's American Idol, the final episode of NBC's The Office featuring star Steve Carrell, and a pair of NBA Game 6 playoff games on TNT all likely coalesced to tackle the draft's audience.