ESPN's live telecast of the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft in primetime on Thursday tackled a 5.1 cable rating and nearly 6.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen fast nationals data. That marked an 11% gain from last year's 6 million.
The April 26 opening round coverage now stands as the second highest-rated and second most-viewed NFL Draft telecast on record, behind only the 5.3 and 7.29 million watchers in 2010, the first time the college selection event aired in primetime. ESPN has televised the NFL Draft annually since 1980 and the event has received ratings since 1983.
For its part, NFL Network first-round coverage played before a record 1.4 million viewers on average, a 40% jump from the 1 million who tuned in the 2010 event.
First-round coverage of the 2012 NFL Draft drew a combined total viewership of 25.3 million viewers on ESPN and NFL Network, according to Nielsen.
Combined, the two network's averaged 8.1 million viewers, up 16% from the 7 million from 2011. The 2012 iteration ranks as the second-most-watched first round ever, behinf 8.3 million in 2010.
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