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Is Social Media Hurting ESPN's NFL Draft Coverage? Not Much As You Might Think

Is Social Media Hurting ESPN's NFL Draft Coverage? Not Much As You Might Think

This year’s NFL Draft, which concluded over the weekend, was a huge success for Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS)’s ESPN network, which delivered its highest ratings for the three-day event since 2014. But as the way in which fans follow and participate in events like the NFL Draft is changing, sponsors are beginning to reconsider how best to reach fans.

“Anyone who follows the NFL Draft on social media knows that picks are published before being relayed through TV networks,” Inc. Magazine columnist and sports attorney Darren Heitner told Benzinga.

Related Link: Something You Don't See Every Day: The Bull Case For Disney's ESPN

But while Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB), Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR) and Snap Inc (NYSE: SNAP) may be piggy-backing on the NFL Draft’s popularity, they certainly don’t seem to be hurting the draft’s TV ratings.

“The league has done a lot in recent years to raise the visibility of the draft by moving the first two nights into primetime and bringing the event on the road to different cities,” ESPN senor coordinating producer Seth Markman tells Benzinga.

“This year’s draft generated a big audience on ESPN platforms and huge crowds in Philadelphia, the host city.”

In fact, ESPN reports a total live audience of more than 3.1 million viewers for this year’s draft. At the same time, the network reports this year’s event was its most-streamed NFL Draft ever.

“What’s interesting is that social media may cause more people to turn on the TV and watch, as the constant conversation could serve as a reminder or impetus for following along on various forms of media,” Heitner said.

In other words, social media may not be a threat to TV. Instead, it may be a supplement.

Either way, NFL Draft sponsors are paying close attention to trends in how fans follow the draft. ESPN's list of NFL Draft sponsors this year included the following brands:

  • General Motors Company (NYSE: GM)'s GMC
  • Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • BP plc (ADR) (NYSE: BP)'s Castrol EDGE
  • Destination XL Group Inc (NASDAQ: DXLG)'s DXL
  • Marriott International Inc (NASDAQ: MAR)'s Courtyard
  • Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
  • Clorox Co (NYSE: CLX)'s Kingsford
  • ZipRecruiter

Image: Marianne O'Leary, Flickr


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