The 2020 NFL Draft seemed to scratch a nagging sports itch for the coronavirus beleaguered country.
The draft saw over 55 million total viewers over the three-day event, which set and all-time high, up 16 percent from 2019.
There was an average audience of over 8.4 million viewers all three days across ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, and digital channels, which easily broke the previous high of 6.2 million viewers in 2019.
On Thursday, over 15.6 million people tuned into the opening round of the draft, over 8.2 million viewers watched Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday, and over 4.2 million viewers watched the final rounds on Saturday.
Three of the top five markets were in Ohio with Columbus checking in at number one with Cleveland right behind at number two and Cincinnati at number five.
That came as the Cincinnati Bengals selected national champion quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall pick and the Cleveland Browns picked players like Grant Delpit, Burrow’s teammate at LSU.
Florida football fans also watched as the Miami Dolphins took Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as the fifth pick of Thursday night’s 2020 NFL Draft, and the first selection made by the Miami Dolphins.
Tagovailoa,a southpaw signal caller from Honolulu’s Ewa Beach, was is the fifth quarterback in franchise history selected in the first round, brings a decorated resume to South Florida.
The Buccaneers came out of the draft with help for both sides of the ball.
The Bucs selected four offensive and three defensive players overall during the NFL Draft this past weekend to protect the GOAT, the team’s new quarterback Tom Brady. After taking Iowa offensive tackle Tristian Wirfs 13th overall in round one, the Bucs added Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr in the second round. They also picked up two running backs including third round selection Ke’Shawn Vaughn out of Vanderbilt.
It was the second straight year ESPN and the NFL partnered to present the entire draft.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts and collaboration of our clubs, league personnel, and our partners to conduct an efficient draft and share an unforgettable experience with millions of fans during these uncertain times,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “This draft is the latest chapter in the NFL’s storied history of lifting the spirit of America and unifying people.
“In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of so many talented young men, we were pleased that this unique Draft helped shine a light on today’s true heroes – the health-care workers, first responders and countless others on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. We are also grateful to all those who contributed to the NFL family’s fundraising efforts.”
In addition to raising money, the Draft-A-Thon LIVE also paid tribute to frontline workers in the coronavirus pandemic.
As of Sunday, the NFL has raised over $100 million in coronavirus relief.
Funds raised during the Draft-A-Thon are set to help support six national nonprofit organizations and their respective coronavirus relief efforts.