There could already be a big loser in Thursday night's NFL draft: the broadcast TV networks.
ESPN and the NFL Network are carrying live coverage of the first round of pro football picks starting at 5 p.m., and network executives are bracing for a mighty wallop on ratings for shows like "The Big Bang Theory" and "American Idol."
That's because over the last few seasons, the NFL draft officially arrived as a TV Event. Last year the first round drew more than 8 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. In 2011, the aggregate audience on ESPN and NFL Network was just 7 million.
Broadcasters think the numbers could be at least as high this year. CBS is worried enough that it put out a "note" to reporters warning, "Tonight’s draft coverage will likely have an impact on the ratings landscape."