NEW YORK, NY – MAY 08: A general view of the draft stage after the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

With the Johnny Manziel effect no longer in play this year, ESPN’s ratings for Round 1 of the NFL draft Thursday night sunk a little compared to in 2014. Overall, though, it still marked the second highest combined total viewership for the opening round.

But it became evident as the draft dragged on over the course of the next two days that even the almighty NFL couldn’t continue to dominate sports television on what was arguably the biggest sports weekend of the year.

On Saturday, the Kentucky Derby drew its best rating since 1992, while a record audience bought the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight on pay-per-view. Those events conspired with a Game 7 between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers to put the latter rounds of the draft on the backburner for most sports fans.

That’s why, according to Sports Media Watch, this was ESPN’s least-watched draft since 2012.

Specifically, viewership for Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday was down 20 percent from last year, while Saturday’s numbers plummeted 30 percent. Last year, the draft didn’t compete with the Kentucky Derby and Michael Sam was a fairly big draw on Day 3. This year, there was the Derby and two big events in the evening. Those weren’t running directly against the draft, but it looks as though a lot of people picked their TV spots as they weighed when to grab the remote on what was a really nice day in most of the country.

[Sports Media Watch]

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.

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