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Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

NFL Draft sets viewership mark

Will the NFL Draft be back in prime time next spring?

The answer to that is the same as the answer to whether the Pro Bowl again will be held the week before the Super Bowl:

Follow the TV ratings. In other words: yes.

Even against first-run entertainment programming on the broadcast networks - not to mention the NBA playoffs on TNT - the NFL set viewership records Thursday night for Round 1.

An average of 7.3 million people watched on ESPN and another 1 million on the NFL Network, compared to 5.5 million and about 800,000 last year.

The draft was the most popular show on television in key male demographic groups.

Here are the five markets that had the highest ratings on ESPN for the first round:

Jacksonville (10.9 percent of homes), New Orleans (10.8), Austin (9.7), Cleveland (9.2), Oklahoma City (8.6).

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