Last week’s NFL draft received even more attention than usual thanks to the NFL’s combination of online, social media and mobile efforts. Since the League wasn’t the only one covering the draft (ESPN and Fox were two other major players), the NFL was smart to draw viewers to their own platforms through a variety of unique content.
Draft Xtra, a new feature within the NFL 13 app, was meant to complement the televised version of the draft. Fans were able to view news and analysis, chat with other fans, make predictions and view stats on each prospect.
NFL.com included a revamped Draft Tracker with real-time updates and stats on players as they were drafted. Details included everything from the standard player stats and interviews to players’ baby photos. A mock draft, very successful in previous years, was expanded to include a full video that can also be navigated by round.
NFL Mobile, available to Verizon customers, included live coverage, videos and analysis.
The NFL also engaged fans on Facebook and Twitter via both its NFL and NFL Network accounts throughout the draft. Facebook posts encouraged fans to “get outfitted like a first round pick” and included links to the NFL shop; on Twitter, hashtags allowed people to tweet their picks. Every prospect posed for a photo at the NFL’s iPad station, and the photos were then Tweeted out. There was even Twitter chatter regarding the fashion choices of each prospect (thanks to the hashtag #DraftRedCarpet), which, while not hugely popular, was representative of the NFL’s willingness to think outside the box and engage a variety of NFL fans—and beyond.
The results of these efforts? The draft was the most-watched cable show last Thursday night. The NFL Network received 7 percent more viewers than in 2012, while visitors to the NFL’s digital efforts (including NFL.com and mobile) increased 126 percent from 2011. All in all, there were 20 million fans glued to their TV, phone, tablet or computer thanks to the NFL’s efforts to put all eyes on the NFL draft.