Welcome to the draft, that magical collection of days where your favourite sports team’s executive branch chooses players from the next generation.
Each of the four major league sports in North America hold their drafts in the late spring/early summer, with the NFL in April, and the NBA, NHL, and MLB in June. But which of the four major sports leagues has the most public interest behind its draft, and therefore attracts the most coverage across the U.S.?
We used our media monitoring and analysis software to analyze all U.S. online media mentions during each league’s draft period for all four of the major leagues, in order to crown the most newsworthy draft day.
The result? The NFL won by a few touchdowns.
The lack of coverage of the MLB draft may stem from the fact that, unlike the NFL, NHL or NBA, it occurs while the league is playing games during its regular schedule.
But that’s not all. We also used our software to compare mentions of the coveted (and always highly anticipated) first overall pick in each of the four drafts, which in most cases dominates coverage.
Although the NFL and its top prospect came out on top in volume of coverage is concerned, there was another major story besides the #1 pick that dominated draft day headlines. While Jared Goff’s No. 1 pick did make up 20% of NFL draft coverage, the saga of Mississippi offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil’s Twitter and Instagram hacks showing compromising photographs of him and questioning his integrity picked up 23%.
And while Ben Simmons’ No. 1 position was the top news story for the NBA draft at 45%, the theme that Simmons and No. 10 pick Thon Maker are both Australian made up 24% of draft day coverage.
Lastly, while one of the big NHL draft stories was the Toronto Maple Leafs selecting top American prospect Auston Matthews (at 34% of draft day coverage), the fact that the draft takes place just shortly before the free agency market opens up slightly overshadowed mentions of the No. 1 pick at 35%.
So while draft day is obviously a big deal for the big four major North American sports leagues, it seems that sometimes the debate and anticipation over who goes No. 1 isn’t always the biggest story of the day.