Confirming reports from April, the National Football League is moving its 2010 draft to a much more advertiser and viewer friendly day and time. The draft, which will be the NFL's 75th, will kick off in primetime on a Thursday, and will also expand to three days.
Round one will be held on Thursday, April 22 at 7:30 - 11 p.m., with rounds two and three set for Friday, April 23 beginning at 6:30 p.m. and rounds four through seven held during the day Saturday.
The draft has been held on a Saturday and Sunday in April since 1995, and a Sunday-Monday from 1988-1994 and before that on one or two weekdays, but it has always been held during the day.
The 2010 draft will continue to be televised by ESPN and the NFL Network, and will once again be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
The NFL draft attracted a combined average of 6.3 million viewers for the first round last year. By moving to primetime on a Thursday, that number will likely increase substantially.
The move to Thursday is also a shot across the bow to the broadcast networks, which program many of their strongest shows that evening, including CSI, 30 Rock, Grey’s Anatomy and The Mentalist.
ESPN and NFL Network are wagering they can take a significant slice out of the viewership by turning the draft into a primetime sporting event, much as Monday Night Football routinely beats the broadcasters during the NFL season.
"We continue to look for ways to make the draft more accessible to more fans," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, announcing the move. "Moving the first round to prime time on Thursday night will make the first round of the draft available to fans on what is typically the most-watched night of television."