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NFL draft's first round moves to Thursday night for 2010

The NFL announced that the league's annual draft will begin in primetime for the first time in '10. The first round of the '10 NFL Draft will start on Thursday, April 22, at 7:30pm ET, with the second and third rounds starting on Friday, April 23, at 6:30pm.

The NFL draft will kick off in prime time for the first time in 2010, it was announced Thursday. The first round of the 2010 NFL Draft will start on Thursday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the second and third rounds on Friday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by Rounds 4-7 on Saturday, April 24 at 10 a.m. ET.

The draft will continue to be televised by ESPN and NFL Network. The 2010 NFL Draft -- the 75th draft in NFL history -- again will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

"We continue to look for ways to make the draft more accessible to more fans," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. "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."

The 2009 NFL Draft (Saturday, April 25-Sunday, April 26) drew a record 39 million viewers on NFL Network, ESPN and ESPN2. Total NFL Draft viewership increased 66 percent from 2001 to 2009 (from 23.5 million to 39 million).

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.

The NFL draft was a Saturday-Sunday event from 1995 to 2009. It took place on Sunday and Monday from 1988 to 1994, and prior to 1988, it was held on one or two weekdays.

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