Fox is deepening its commitment to the N.F.L., and for the first time this year will televise the N.F.L. draft, according to multiple people with knowledge of the plans. Fox will team up with the NFL Network for a joint production, with a mix of talent from both networks on a co-branded broadcast, with one feed that will appear on both networks, the people said.
Fox will televise the first round on Thursday, April 26, and the second and third rounds on Friday, April 27, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. It was unclear whether Fox would televise the last four rounds of the draft on April 28.
ESPN, which has broadcast the draft since 1980, will continue to do so. Since 2006, both ESPN and the NFL Network have broadcast separate productions of the draft. ESPN played an influential role in turning the draft into a massive, multiple-day television spectacle. Last year, 6.7 million viewers watched ESPN’s coverage of the first round, while 2.5 million watched on the NFL Network.
The N.F.L., Fox and ESPN declined to comment.
Last month, the N.F.L. announced that Fox had won the rights to broadcast 11 games of “Thursday Night Football” for the next five seasons. The rights to televise the draft were part of that package, though it wasn’t immediately clear if Fox would continue doing so after this year.
This year’s draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex., the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
News of Fox televising the draft was first reported by ProFootballTalk.
The draft has evolved into the biggest event of the N.F.L. off-season, and a bridge from the Super Bowl to the combine to the opening of training camp. For decades, it was a sleepy meeting of team representatives in a hotel ballroom surrounded by newspaper reporters.
In 1979, Pete Rozelle, then the commissioner of the N.F.L., teamed with Chet Simmons, the president of ESPN, to televise the draft live. ESPN, then far from the dominant network it is today, was eager for cheap programming to fill time.