Has the NFL Draft Become a Great American Past Time?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT4gZ7MKXSo When I was growing up, after a fun-filled Saturday morning playing football, my friends would gather around a television to watch the first round of the NFL draft. We’d skip the Sunday broadcast in favor of more football with friends, preferring to get the details on Sports Center later that evening.

Those seem like old fashion memories compared to today’s NFL Draft extravaganza. First, in recent years the NFL Channel has produced unprecedented new shows giving fans an insider’s ticket to the NFL Combine. According to NFL.com, this helped draw a “record 39 million viewers on NFL Network, ESPN and ESPN2. Total NFL Draft viewership increased 66 percent from 2001 to 2009 (from 23.5 million to 39 million).” Also, “the first round of last year’s draft on ESPN and NFL Network drew a combined average of 6.3 million viewers, topping all basketball, hockey and baseball games that weekend.”

Now, the NFL is attempting to turn the draft into a major national past time by turning the event into a three-day spectacle of talking heads and hard-hitting highlights. The first round of the 2010 NFL Draft will start tonight at 7:30 p.m. The second and third rounds are on Friday at 6 p.m. Rounds 4-7 are on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET.

In addition to NFL fans, Anheuser-Busch (BUD), Papa John’s (PZZA) and Pepsi (PEP) — among many others — are all looking forward to another extension of the most powerful brand in sports.