Fox, NFL Network To Simulcast 2018 NFL Draft; ESPN Expanding Coverage to ESPN2, ABC
The NFL has announced a new broadcast arrangement in which NFL Network and Fox will team up to simulcast live coverage of Rounds 1-3 of the 2018 NFL Draft April 26-28. Additionally, the league has expanded its partnership with ESPN/ABC whereby ESPN2 will supplement ESPN’s coverage of Round 1 with a separate and unique college-themed production in addition to a simulcast of ESPN’s live coverage of Rounds 4-7 airing on ABC.
The expanded coverage gives the NFL Draft its largest audience reach ever and marks the first time ever that the entirety of the three-day event will air live on broadcast television. Live streaming of the 2018 NFL Draft coverage will be available across devices through the NFL app or NFL.com. Fans can also live-stream the 2018 NFL Draft through Fox Sports and the ESPN App.
“The NFL Draft is a unique event on the NFL calendar where the promise and excitement of the future is universally felt among fans, players, and clubs,” says Brian Rolapp, chief media and business officer, NFL. “Fan interest in the NFL Draft grows year after year, and we are excited for the opportunity to meet that demand with expanded draft coverage including a record six television networks, while deepening the relationship with our trusted broadcast partners ESPN and Fox.”
NFL Network Teams Up With Fox for Simulcast
The NFL Draft coverage simulcast on NFL Network and Fox will be produced by NFL Network and feature co-branding, as well as a mixed team of NFL Network and NFL on Fox on-air personalities. Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback, three-time Super Bowl champion, and Fox’s lead NFL game analyst Troy Aikman joins live coverage of Round 1 alongside NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, Mike Mayock, Daniel Jeremiah, and Stanford football coach David Shaw. Additionally, Fox’s lead college-football–game analyst Joel Klatt joins pre-Draft coverage of the first three rounds, as well as live coverage of Rounds 2 and 3 on April 27, which also features NFL Network/Fox talent Charles Davis, Peter Schrager, and NFL Network’s Chris Rose.
“The opportunity for Fox to help shape the stories that are told around such an energetic and optimistic time for NFL fans is definitely a place we want to be,” says Mark Silverman, president, Fox Sports National Networks. “Using Troy and Joel, two of the best analysts in the business, serves the NFL Draft audience in a new and fresh way.”
ESPN Expands Draft Coverage to ESPN2, ABC
ESPN’s College GameDay onsite studio show will make its first visit to the NFL Draft this spring as part of ESPN’s extensive coverage of the three-day event. On April 26-27, ESPN will feature a GameDay pre-Draft show in the afternoon. GameDay will also be part of a college-themed option of Round 1 in primetime on ESPN2 in addition to the traditional pick-by-pick coverage on ESPN.
The NFL Draft Presented by Courtyard, ESPN’s 39th consecutive year of presenting the NFL’s annual player-selection event, will include another first: a simulcast on ABC of Rounds 4-7 on Saturday April 28 (noon-7 p.m. ET).
On Thursday April 26, Rece Davis will host a special two-hour College GameDay Built by The Home Depot (5-7 p.m., ESPN) from the NFL Draft Experience outside AT&T Stadium prior to the Draft’s opening round. Davis will be joined on-set by GameDay regulars Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, and David Pollack. At 8 p.m., the GameDay-themed Draft telecast will offer reactions and analysis to the picks from college and NFL experts on ESPN2, and ESPN will feature host Trey Wingo with Mel Kiper Jr., Louis Riddick, and Herbstreit, making his debut on the main set. Todd McShay, Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, and Suzy Kolber will also be key contributors to Round 1 on ESPN.
On April 27, GameDay will have a one-hour special (5 p.m.) before the telecast of Rounds 2-3 airs on ESPN/ESPN2 at 7 p.m.
“ESPN has presented the NFL Draft for nearly 40 years, and we take great pride in finding new and exciting ways to elevate and differentiate our coverage,” says Burke Magnus, EVP, programming and scheduling, ESPN. “The draft is the perfect intersection of college football and the NFL, so giving fans the opportunity to experience Round 1 through the lens of College GameDay makes perfect sense. Building off the success of our NFL Wild Card and Pro Bowl simulcasts, we are also excited to present the NFL Draft on ABC for the first time with Saturday’s coverage of Rounds 4-7.”
On April 28, Rounds 4-7 will be televised live on ESPN and simulcast on ABC. The entire three-day NFL Draft telecast will be streamed live on the ESPN App. Additionally, ESPN Radio will broadcast the first two nights of the Draft, with Dari Nowkhah, Bill Polian, and Chris Canty. ESPN Deportes will offer a Spanish-language telecast of Round 1, and Rounds 2-3 will air in Spanish on ESPN3.
Leading into Round 1, ESPN will offer an unprecedented 26 consecutive hours of NFL Draft coverage, beginning Wednesday April 25 with the 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter. Other popular programs will be part of the marathon, including ESPN Radio’s Golic and Wingo and NFL Live, which will originate from the NFL Draft Experience in Arlington.