By John Lanzafame
In an offseason besieged by news of the NFL Lockout, the NFL Draft provided a welcome return of focus to the game and the players. It also provided a forum for NFL Fans to make their opinions heard. Some fans did so loudly, while others made their voices heard by boycotting the whole affair.
Radio City Music Hall was crowded with rowdy fans for the draft announcements, as always, but there was a very different feel to the draft this year. While fans wore jerseys supporting teams from all over the league, they were very aligned on a few issues. Commissioner Roger Goodell was loudly booed by the fans every time he approached the podium through all 32 picks of the first round. He was also greeted by fans chanting “we want football”, which he tried to pacify by responding, “I hear you. I do, too.”
Other fans, frustrated with the process, seemed to follow through on their threat to boycott the NFL Draft coverage. The television ratings for Thursday night’s first round were down sharply from last year, with ESPN’s coverage dropping to 6 million viewers from last year’s 7.3 million, a decline of over 17 percent. The ratings for rounds 2 and 3 fell by 28 percent from last year.
Television ratings have grown steadily for NFL events, including games and special coverage such as the draft, leading to last year’s introduction of prime time coverage for the first round of the NFL draft. Ratings have grown consistently year over year for the Super Bowl as well, culminating with this year’s record setting ratings. The significant drop in television ratings for this year’s NFL draft coverage is a strong indicator of the mood of fans with regard to the lockout; and the fans hope that those driving the process have heard their voices, and that an end to the lockout will be coming soon.
More stories you might like