Skip to main content

Behind the scenes of the first virtual NFL draft

Thursday’s NFL draft will essentially be a giant videoconference call as players, team managers, and draft hosts will join in virtually from their homes. We spoke with ESPN employees to see how they are preparing to cover this unique situation. 

During a typical ESPN event, there are usually 40 to 50 feeds that need to be coordinated, but this virtual draft will have to organize more than 100 different feeds simultaneously.

Several NFL prospects have been sent kits to set up mini broadcast booths inside their homes, including a microphone, a lighting kit, and one or two cameras. 

Of course, the technical issues are on everyone’s mind, but ESPN is prepared. 

“The biggest challenge we probably will see is any type of less-mild problems with connectivity to individuals homes, and that’s really something that we can’t control,” Dave Johnson, the vice president of engineering and media distribution at Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, told Digital Trends. “We do have a lot of redundancy and resiliency built into the network to avoid any types of problems.”

Editors' Recommendations

Allison Matyus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Allison Matyus is a general news reporter at Digital Trends. She covers any and all tech news, including issues around social…
EA renews Madden exclusivity deal with NFL, NFLPA
Madden NFL 20

Electronic Arts renewed its exclusivity deal with the NFL, locking in Madden as the only NFL-approved football sim for years.

EA Sports, the National Football League, and the NFL Player’s Association announced a multiyear renewal of their long-term partnership on Thursday.

Read more
How to watch the NFL Draft 2020
The NFL's Daniel Sorensen tries to tackle Darren Waller

People desperate for sports coverage since the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has canceled all major events are getting a welcome reprieve: The National Football League (NFL) draft is set to kick off Thursday evening.

In lieu of holding the draft with a live audience in New York or Las Vegas as it usually does, the NFL will hold its first virtual draft. Usually, each team's coaches and management are shown huddling in their respective war rooms, but with social distancing in place, they'll be discussing their picks from their homes.
Where to watch the draft live
The three-day draft event will be simultaneously broadcast on four channels starting at 5 p.m. PT on Thursday April 23: ESPN, ESPN Deportes, the NFL Network, and ABC. The NFL Network, ABC and ESPN will also stream the draft live for customers with a TV package.

Read more
NFL, NBA offer free subscriptions as coronavirus cancels live sports
Patrick Mahomes holds his arms up.

Sports have shut down indefinitely, courtesy of the coronavirus, and the absence of one of America’s most revered pastimes has been profound. On Wednesday, March 18, the NFL and the NBA both announced ways to help fill the void.

The NFL will offer complimentary access to NFL Game Pass, a digital streaming product of the league, which will allow fans to rewatch football games and moments from the past. The platform will be offered free of charge until May 31 for fans residing in the U.S. and will be free starting Thursday through July 31 for fans outside the U.S. and Canada.

Read more