NFL to put two hours of scouting combine coverage on ABC

Yahoo Sports

The NFL hasn’t expanded its 16-game schedule or added playoff games, and the draft coverage is likely as full as it can get.

One of the few remaining products the NFL can expand television coverage of is the annual scouting combine, and a report said the league is planning to do just that.

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The NFL announced on Tuesday that two hours of scouting combine coverage will be on ABC. The league said it will broadcast quarterback and receiver workouts on Saturday, March 2 at 1 p.m. ET. That’s in addition to four days of coverage on NFL Network.

While it seems crazy that ABC would want two hours of the combine, even on a sleeping Saturday afternoon, the success of the AAF’s first weekend proves yet again that football is the television ratings gift that keeps on giving, with no end in sight.

NFL draft has become big business

The NFL draft has become a sport in itself. In terms of year-round interest and television ratings, it would probably be fair to slot the NFL draft right after (in some order) the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and college football.

The NFL Network started showing combine drills many years ago, and the coverage of the combine has seemingly increased every year. Being on a traditional network is the next step. If the two hours on ABC do well this year — and based on the ratings for every other football-related broadcast, it probably will do better than most people expect — then expect the NFL to keep expanding it in the future. That’s how we ended up with the NFL draft being on multiple networks, including all seven rounds being on traditional networks last year, and a live stream on the Yahoo Sports app.

Will people watch the combine on network TV?

The combine is a strange event, when you think about it. People tune in, and some even pay admission to Lucas Oil Stadium to watch in person, just to see college kids run and do vertical jumps. There are some football drills too. But the most interesting things at the combine happen behind the scenes, like agents discussing free agents with teams, teams figuring out potential trades, and private team interviews with the prospects.

Still, it’s football (kind of) at a time when we desperately want more football. That’s why ABC will show it. And that’s why there’s a good chance the ratings will be pretty good.

Denzel Ward, an Ohio State cornerback who was drafted by the Browns, runs the 40 at the 2018 scouting combine. (AP)
Denzel Ward, an Ohio State cornerback who was drafted by the Browns, runs the 40 at the 2018 scouting combine. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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