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ESPN’s Draft Beats NBA Playoffs in Ratings Race

The National Football League draft’s move to prime time led to a 26 percent increase in preliminary television ratings for ESPN, beating the National Basketball Association playoffs.

The opening round of the draft, in its first showing at night after being held on Saturday afternoons, was seen on the Walt Disney Co. network in 5.4 percent of households in the top 56 U.S. television markets, ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer said in an e-mail. That’s a 26 percent increase over the 4.3 rating for an almost equal-length first round a year ago.

The draft, which started last night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, also was shown on the NFL Network, as it was last year.

There were two NBA first-round playoff games on Time Warner Inc.’s TNT last night. The Chicago Bulls’ 108-106 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in an early game drew a 2.1 preliminary rating, and in later action the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 101-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers drew a 3.0, Turner spokesman Jeff Pomeroy said in an e-mail.

The St. Louis Rams selected University of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the first pick of the draft, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh went second to the Detroit Lions and Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy, also a defensive tackle, was drafted third by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rounds 2 and 3 will be held tonight and the completion of the seven-round draft will take place tomorrow afternoon.

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