NFL Network Finds Ratings, Production Success During Draft Weekend

The NFL Network saw a 44% year-to-year ratings increase for its primetime coverage of the NFL Draft on Thursday April 22, but, for Glenn Adamo, VP, media and operations, for the league, the take-away from the Draft was how ESPN and NFL Network worked together as a solid team.

“It was the best we’ve ever worked together, and, by using shared facilities, we were both able to do more,” he says. “All in all, I’m thrilled with the production for both ESPN and the NFL Network.”

The move to primetime called for some new types of coverage, including a red-carpet show. By sharing cameras inside Radio City Music Hall, the NFL Network was able to afford the additional cameras for the red-carpet production, giving a unique energy to an event that has historically been more of a business meeting than an entertainment event.

“The NFL public-relations department also did a great job to make it more entertaining, with a large number of ex-players and Hall of Famers available for us to speak with,” Adamo adds.

Also helping were more live remote productions from NFL-team “war rooms” and the homes of players. “That brought the level of our production up considerably,” he says.

Three Corplex mobile-production units were at the center of the NFL Network’s HD production. “They have really tremendous, great facilities for this show,” says Adamo. ESPN relied on NEP Supershooter 25, the truck used for Monday Night Football.

The red-carpet production was the easy part of the show. Once the draft picks started rolling, the focus was on pulling up graphics and B-roll for each player. and the process of building those graphics and videos began nearly nine months before the draft and heated up during the NFL Scouting Combine held in Indianapolis in February.

This year, the NFL Network expanded its coverage of the Combine, grabbing more isolated video of players on different apparatus.

“That really made a difference in our draft coverage, and we were rarely fooled,” says Adamo. Testament to the hard work in preproduction was that it wasn’t until the end of the sixth round and beginning of the seventh that players were drafted who didn’t have video available.

Along with keeping on top of the draft picks was the need to ensure that sponsor elements ran. Says Adamo, “We were able to get through the broadcast without having to run a lot of commercials, which can get the fan at home thinking negatively about the coverage.”

With the red carpet rolled up, it’s on to the next big event on the NFL schedule: kicking off the 2010-11 season, another primetime event with the Minnesota Vikings visiting the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 9.

“Give any producer a chance to work in primetime, and you’ll see them step up with a bigger show,” says Adamo.

With the ratings success the NFL Network found this year, it’s safe to say that the 2011 draft will continue the trend of bigger being better.