The NFL Draft went down this past weekend and if you are even a little bit of a sports fan, you probably watched some portion of it either when your team was picking or just via channel surfing throughout the day.
The ratings were huge for the first round on Thursday night in primetime, record breaking even. The numbers rose 50 percent from last year, very impressive when you take into consideration that nobody dropped back to pass, make a tackle or had to kick a game winning field goal.
Did I mention that they moved the draft back two weeks due to scheduling conflicts at Radio City Music Hall in New York? This change in schedule seemed to tick some people off but apparently not enough to tune out.
Multiple story lines serve as fuel to the audience in order to generate interest in the draft, with the biggest lay-up every year being who the first overall pick will be. Next comes the question of when will the first quarterback get picked. And this year featured a first-of-its-kind narrative: would an NFL team make history by drafting an openly gay player?
The ratings figures are eye-catching on their own, but knowing that the NFL Network, owned by the league, and ESPN now command $15 million in advertising associated with their draft coverage jumps out more to me. The likes of Nike, Pepsi, Visa and other corporate giants that were associated with the draft in 2013 had to fork over a boat load of money to be part of this year’s event.
The draft has become the bridge that connects fans from that last snap of the Super Bowl to the opening of training camps. The NFL markets its product just enough during the off-season to keep the fans salivating about what’s next. The first snap of the 2014 season.