Roger Goodell with Michael Crabtree, 2009 NFL Draft
The National Football League draft may tackle the biggest audience in its 75-year history thanks to a move to prime time.
The first round of the 2010 NFL Draft — to be held at Radio City Music Hall — will start on Thursday, April 22, at 7:30/6:30 CT, and be carried by ESPN and the NFL Network.
The second and third rounds will take place Friday, April 23, at 6:30/5:30 CT, while Rounds 4 through 7 will play out the morning of Saturday, April 24.
"We continue to look for ways to make the draft more accessible to more fans," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. "Moving the first round to prime time on Thursday night will make [it] available to fans on what is typically the most-watched night of television."
Timing isn't the only reason the 2010 NFL Draft is likely to amass the draft's largest-ever audience. It's benefitted from growing interest since 2001. Viewership since then has increased 66 percent, with a total of 39 million viewers tuning in (across NFL Network, ESPN and ESPN2) for this year's draft, which was held the weekend of April 25.