The NFL is, by far, the wealthiest and most powerful sports league in America. With an annual revenue of around $9 billion, the National Football League dwarfs other professional sports leagues, both in America and abroad. But just how much of a giant in the NFL in the sports world? More than you can imagine.
This “weekend” (Thursday night through Saturday morning), the NFL Draft took place in New York City. Obviously, the most-hyped bit of the draft was the first round, televised in primetime on Thursday evening. Needless to say, the NFL Draft was hardly the only sporting event taking place on Thursday evening. With the NBA and NHL Playoffs in full swing, and the MLB season providing plenty of intrigue so far in the early going, the NFL’s rookie showcase had plenty of competition for viewership.
Thursday night gave sports fans the choice between the Draft and four nationally televised playoff games: the Trail Blazers – Spurs playoff game (NBA) on ESPN2, the Heat – Nets playoff game (NBA) on ESPN2, the Bruins – Canadiens (NHL) playoff game on NBC Sports, the Ducks – Kings (NHL) playoff game on NBC Sports. Fans could also, of course, watch their local MLB teams in regional broadcasts. So how did everything play out? Well, let’s just say people in this country LOVE their football…
Overnights: ESPN NFL Draft: 6.8 ESPN2 Blazers-Spurs 2.7 ESPN2 Heat-Nets: 2.6 NFL Net NFL Draft: 1.9 NBCSN Bos-Montreal 1.2 NBCSN Ana-LA: 0.7
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) May 9, 2014
Yes, you read that correctly. The ESPN NFL Draft coverage alone nearly outdid all four major playoff games on the evening, and when combined with NFL Network’s coverage of the Draft, it isn’t even close. The NFL draft was watched by more viewers than the NBA and NHL’s postseason contests combined. I’m sure there was regional interest in baseball by market, but the numbers don’t lie: the NFL is more popular than any other sport in this country by a lot – even when the games aren’t even being played.
It’s also worth mentioning that the NFL’s dominance might only increase in the next few years, especially when examining the Draft. There’s been talk of moving the Draft from city to city in the coming years, and having cities bid to host the spectacle. All of this means one thing: more and more dollars for the behemoth that is the National Football League.