You knew it was just a matter of time, but starting next April, the NFL Draft will be moving to a three-day format. Both ESPN and the NFL-N will still be covering those days, but they now have an extra day to work with, and will also be given a Thursday primetime starting point. Via John Clayton at ESPN….

The audience for the NFL draft has been growing, and the league has responded by expanding the event from two to three days.

Commissioner Roger Goodell notified teams Thursday that the draft will be spread over three days in 2010, running Thursday, April 22, through Saturday, April 24.

In addition, the first round will start in prime time at 7:30 p.m. ET.

“We continue to look for ways to make the draft more accessible to more fans,” Goodell said in a statement. “Moving the first round to prime time on Thursday night will make the first round of the draft available to fans on what is typically the most-watched night of television.”

ESPN and the NFL Network will televise the entire show.

The second and third rounds will start at 6:30 p.m. ET on April 23.

Rounds 4 through 7 will be on April 24, starting at 10 a.m. ET.

So there you have it. Obviously it’s the right decision on multiple fronts, with the two biggest being ad revenue and ratings. It’s the right decision, and should cause more media outlets to cover it, with the start time being on a Thursday evening.

Draft to expand to three days (ESPN)