This year’s NFL draft was the most-watched and best-attended ever

Kyler Murray with a jersey after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the first pick of the NFL draft April 25 in Nashville.
(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

In Nashville, the hometown of the Grand Ole Opry, the NFL showed off its ability to pull off a mega-event on the grandest of scales.

The league announced its record-breaking numbers Monday from last week’s NFL draft, including an estimated 600,000 in attendance over three days. With an average of 61 million viewers across the NFL Network, ESPN, ABC and digital channels, this was the highest-rated and most-watched draft in history, surpassing last year’s event in Arlington, Texas.

Under NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the draft has gone from a two-day, mostly daytime fixture in New York City to a three-day traveling event, with the first three rounds in prime time. The last five have been held in Chicago (twice), Philadelphia, the Dallas area and Nashville, with Las Vegas playing host to the 2020 draft.


Whereas fans typically need a ticket to attend the draft, obtaining those via lottery, tickets were not required this year, with spectators filling the streets of Nashville to view the gigantic stage at the end of Broadway. The attendance was more than double that of Philadelphia’s draft (250,000), which also did not require tickets.

Sign up for our daily sports newsletter »

“The 2019 NFL Draft was a tremendous continuation of the celebration of the NFL’s 100th season and an opportunity to welcome the next generation of stars,” Goodell said in a written statement. “Dramatic and emotional storylines played out in cities across the country with the energetic host city of Nashville serving as a breathtaking backdrop to hundreds of thousands of passionate fans who lined the streets and enjoyed a unique NFL Draft Experience. We congratulate our newest players and their families and thank the [Tennessee] Titans, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp., the City of Nashville, the volunteers, and everyone who made the Draft such a memorable, entertaining, and successful experience.”

Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer