The ESPY Awards made a strong debut in its move to broadcast television last night, as the three-hour telecast drew 7.7 million viewers, according to overnight numbers from Nielsen.
The viewership was more than triple last year's 2.2 million when the awards show aired on namesake network ESPN. Caitlyn Jenner, the 1976 Olympic gold medalist, then known as Bruce and who recently transitioned from male to female, was the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Jenner personally thanked "my buddy" Diane Sawyer, whose sit-down interview with Jenner in April drew a whopping 17 million viewers on ABC.
"You can only tell your story the first time once, and you did it so authentically and so gracefully," Jenner said to Sawyer, who was in the crowd. "I'm so proud to have you as a friend."
Other highlights from the program included noted Boston Red Sox superfan Ben Affleck presenting New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter with the Icon Award and Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still accepting the Jimmy V Perseverance Award for himself and his 5-year-old daughter, Leah Still, who has been battling cancer.
The night also included many advertisers ABC viewers might not be accustomed to, including DraftKings, a Nike spot more fitting for ESPN and UFC fighter Ronda Rousey pitching for Metro PCS.
On Twitter, Jenner and Leah Still were the top two most tweeted-about personalities; Devon Still was fifth. Rousey, named best female athlete, and boxer Floyd Mayweather were third and fourth, respectively. Leah Still's pretaped message to accept the Perseverance Award was the top moment on Twitter.
Below is a snapshot of the conversation on Twitter, highlighting how the term "ESPYS" was tweeted throughout the night. Click here for the full interactive graphic.
Stay tuned for updated numbers coming later today.