The NBA Draft drives a ton of interest online. Thanks to the popularity of the league and the way that college basketball allows basketball fans to see the players before they’re picked, it’s unquestionably a massive Twitter event. (That you can find the picks on Twitter before they’re announced by Adam Silver also helps.)

What it hasn’t been, though, is a massive ratings-winner for ESPN. Last night was more of the same:

That’s not bad, really. But it’s nothing close to what the NFL does, for example. There are a few factors in play, perhaps most of all the fact that we pretty much knew exactly what the top three picks were going to be last night, even before Woj and Shams did their thing online. It’s also not the most fun broadcast to watch. Maria Taylor is great, Jay Bilas is interesting, and Rece Davis is solid, but the flow is always a bit stilted. Chauncey Billups dropping ridiculous comps for every single prospect last night didn’t help, either. (Sample: Rui Hachimura = Kawhi Leonard.)

What’s maybe even more interesting is the inelastic nature of the ratings.

2.4/2.7/2.6/2.5 from 2016-2019 is a very consistent run, and maybe speaks to the fact that this is just what it is, from a ratings perspective. There’s only so much ESPN or any other network can do with a draft property, especially one that runs in the middle of June. (Less sports calendar competition overall, but more “holy shit it’s so nice outside let’s do something” competition across the country.)

The only real way to increase drama would be to have a draft without a clear top prospect, not because of a lack of outstanding players in a class, but because of a larger group of outstanding players. We might not get that any time soon, although if the NBA removes the one-and-done rule, we might get one wild draft featuring HS early-entries and the prior year of college stars who weren’t allowed to enter early.

That’s a few years down the road, though, if it happens at all. Until then, we should probably just pencil in the NBA Draft for a solid-but-unspectacular 2.4-2.7 rating and move on accordingly.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.