Ratings Roundup: NFL Draft Viewership Takes Hit; Lockout Rearing Its Ugly Head?

The first signs of the potential damage as a result of the NFL Lockout showed its ugly face on Thursday, as ESPN and NFL Network’s combined coverage for the NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall was down 16% in viewership. The Draft averaged some 7 million viewers, compared to 8.3 million last year. Nonetheless, this year’s first-round coverage drew the second largest audience ever, behind only the 2010 Draft (the first to air the opening three rounds in primetime).

ESPN took an 18% hit to some 6 million viewers, down from 7.3 million for the first round of the draft in 2010. NFL Network’s audience essentially held steady, increasing from 1.03 million last year to 1.04 million. NFL Network also notched a 0.39 rating for its Day 2 coverage (up 3% from last year) and averaged 549,000 viewers…

…TNT’s First Round coverage of the NBA Playoffs was the most-watched and highest-rated postseason to date in cable television history. TNT’s 23 First Round games delivered an average of 2.7 U.S. HH Rating, (up 29% from 2.1), 4.2 million Total Viewers ( up 32% from 3.2 million) and 3.1 million Households (up 27% from 2.4 million). Last season TNT aired the same number of First Round match-ups…

…Comcast SportsNet Chicago rode two first round playoff series – the Bulls and Blackhawks notched their highest rated opening rounds in network history – and the first pitch of the 2010 White Sox and Cubs seasons to a huge month of April. CSN Chicago televised 52 live professional games, amassing a total viewing audience of nearly 7 million Chicago TV households (6,956,864).  The network set a new weekly record amassing over 2.6 million homes tuning in for 15 live pro events from April 18-24 and enjoyed the biggest night in its 6 ½ year history on April 26. (Bulls’ Game 5 clincer and Blackhawks Games 7 OT loss). In addition, the CSN Chicago’s top 5 highest-rated games ever all occurred during during a five day period (April 21-26)…