The Milwaukee Bucks made the playoffs this year for only the second time since 2006-07. The NFL draft takes place each and every year. But that didn't stop the vast majority of sports fans in the Milwaukee area from tuning into the draft last Thursday, rather than Game 3 of the Bucks' first-round series with the Miami Heat.
"Game 3 of the Bucks and Heat series in the NBA playoffs was carried Thursday night on Fox Sports Wisconsin and TNT. The telecast began at 6 p.m. and had a combined rating of 3.3 in the Milwaukee market (2.1 on TNT and 1.2 on FSW), which means about 29,700 households watched on average.
That same night the NFL draft was televised on ESPN and the NFL Network. It had a combined rating of 8.9 in the Milwaukee market (7.2 on ESPN and 1.7 on NFLN), which means about 80,300 households were watching on average."
It's weird, that notion that far more sports fans would prefer to watch a sporting event with no actual sports to a sporting event with so much on the line. But it's something we've become used to of late. Draft ratings continued to climb on both ESPN and NFL Network this year, according to USA Today's Michael Hiestand, widening that gap.
The two networks combined for 7.7 million viewers nationwide for Round 1 and nearly 4 million viewers for the entirety of their three day coverage. Thursday night's Clippers-Grizzlies Game 3 averaged 2.57 million viewers and Heat-Bucks averaged 2.13 million viewers. That means the NFL Draft didn't just surpass the NBA Playoffs, Round 1 coverage actually tripled the viewership of the playoff games that night.
Last year's draft crushed a TNT NBA playoff doubleheader, as well as every other program it went up against in prime time. Hell, World Series games have barely been able to outgain the draft in recent years, depending on the teams and the situation.
Just another affirmation that the NFL is the king of the American sports spectrum.