The first ever virtual NFL Draft concluded on Saturday, and things went well for the league. Many questions were floating about this years draft, such as how or if it would even be held. It was completely virtual, with the commissioner announcing the picks without anyone in attendance, as well as the players remaining at home. There were a lot of things that could have went wrong, but fortunately the draft went without any problems.
The thing that set this draft apart was the fact everyone who participated was at their own remote location. To ensure things went smoothly, the league sent over 200 packages of streaming equipment to staff and players participating in the draft. According to ESPN, these packages included Iphone 11s, as well as a microphone and tripod. This insured that all players had the proper equipment to videotape themselves for fans around the world to view. It wasn’t the same as the players getting drafted in a packed stadium to the cheers of thousands of fans, but it was enough to keep the draft enjoyable.
There were no fans in attendance to react to commissioner Godell’s announcements, but they were still shown. Next to Godell announcing the picks were grids with fans reacting to the picks announced by the commissioner. It was different than being there in person, but still nice to see how fans reacted to their teams making picks that could potentially change their franchise. There were parts throughout the draft where some fans’ screens weren’t visible and replaced with the teams logos, but other than that the idea of having streams of the fans reactions seemed successful.
For this being the first ever professional draft to happen virtually, I would say things went quite well. According to ESPN, there were about 55 million people who tuned into the draft over the three days, shattering previous records. This may be due to all the fans craving any sports they can get, but it still shows that events can be held virtually and be very successful. These were record ratings, and things from a production standpoint will only continue to improve as other events may be held virtually in the future. There were no significant technical problems, and most people who tuned it seemed to really enjoy the draft. This was the first live sporting event I’ve seen in a while, so it was refreshing to get another taste of sports in my life. This successful draft showed that there are still ways to complete complicated events virtually, and it could be huge for the sports industry and we continue to move forward in this pandemic.