The 2010 NFL Draft will kick off in primetime in a brand new format. Per a release from the NFL, the first round of the draft will start on Thursday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. ET. The second and third rounds will be Friday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m. ET, and rounds 4-7 will start on Saturday, April 24, at 10 a.m.
In recent years, the league has responded to an increase in draft popularity with several changes to the draft's format. In 2008, the league moved the start time of the first day of the draft from noon ET to 3 p.m. ET to attract more TV viewers. The NFL also shortened the first day from three rounds to two and reduced the amount of time between each pick. The Day 1 start time was pushed back another hour to 4 p.m. ET this year.
"We continue to look for ways to make the draft more accessible to more fans," commissioner Roger Goodell said in the release. "Moving the first round to prime time on Thursday night will make the first round of the draft available to fans on what is typically the most-watched night of television."
Per the release, the 2009 draft (Saturday, April 25-Sunday, April 26) drew a record 39 million viewers on NFL Network, ESPN and ESPN2. The first round of last year's draft on ESPN and NFL Network drew a combined average of 6.3 million viewers, topping all basketball, hockey and baseball games that weekend.