NFL Draft sets viewing record and Sportsbooks cash in
Despite some critics saying it couldn't be done, the NFL cashed in on showing the NFL Draft from Thursday-Saturday, with 55 million viewers watching on the digital platform, ESPN, ABC, ESPN Deportes and NFL Network. The average attendance over the weekend was 8.4 million viewers.
Sports fans were not only hungry for the NFL, but also for betting on something tangible. Even if there was no live action on the field, there were prop bets for everything from over/unders on where key players were supposed to go, to how many players from a certain school or conference would go in the draft.
Sports fans and the NFL had a very good three-day stretch in trying times. But you know who also benefitted? The Vegas sportsbooks saw a major increase of cash bet on the 202 NFL Draft and the handle was the most ever. With very little live sports going on in the world, bettors were looking for something to lay wagers on and they found it NFL Draft props. In 2017, William Hill offered around 10 NFL prop bets. In 2020, they offered 104 different props for the draft.
If you bet on the over 5.5 wide receivers taken in the first round, you won as six were taken. There were also seven offensive linemen taken in the first round, 36 wide receivers taken overall and nine were from the SEC. There were also 13 wide receivers taken in the first two rounds, which were the most ever.
A couple of the books were hurt by the fact that Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III went over Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb, going to the Raiders at 12. In terms of running backs, it was assumed that nobody would be take in the first round and that over/under was set at many books at 0.5. Clyde Edwards-Helaire from LSU was taken as the last player in the round and only runner taken.
Bettors have found a way to keep busy during a pandemic. In the United States, there's still horse racing available. Points Bet has NFL futures available on the 2021 Super Bowl (Tampa Bay is now fourth-best) and Divisions for example.
If you have the extra cash, there are still options to bet on sports, even if there are no live events. Hopefully, we are getting very close to seeing that in the next month or two.