The Pro Bowl Got Better Ratings Than Almost Every MLB, NHL and NBA Playoff Game
The Pro Bowl is a joke.
This is an opinion that’s been echoed by more or less every football fan, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who said of last year’s installment, “We’re either going to have to improve the quality of what we’re doing in the Pro Bowl or consider other changes or even considering eliminating the game if that’s the kind of quality game we’re going to provide.”
Indeed, when a football game has no actual stakes attached to it — beyond the desire of the players involved to not be injured — it doesn’t make for very compelling TV, regardless of who picks the teams, or when and where the game takes place.
But why does the league keep this facade of a game going despite it serving as an annual punchline for its brand? Because ratings-wise, even when it competes directly with the Grammys, the least meaningful event of NFL calendar regularly outperforms the most important events of the year for other sports — and usually by a significant margin.
Case in point, this year’s Pro Bowl drew 11.7 million viewers, which was actually a significant decrease from last season’s 12.2 million viewers.
But 11.7 million viewers is most definitely nothing to scoff at.
Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals — the highest rated non-Finals game by far last season — drew-in 11.6 million viewers. The highest-rated game of the Western Conference Finals garnered 5.2 million viewers, less than half of the Pro Bowl’s viewership.
The Stanley Cup Finals were an unmitigated ratings success by hockey standards, but even the second-most watched Game 6 in Stanley Cup history hardly compared to a down year in Pro Bowl viewership, with the NHL’s offering only mustering 8.16 million viewers.
Moving on to baseball, the AL Championship Series between the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox averaged 7.7 million viewers for FOX, while the NL Championship Series between the Cardinals and Dodgers averaged 5 million for TBS.
And for straight comparison’s sake, Major League Baseball’s All-Star game managed 11 million viewers, while the NBA’s average was 8 million. The NHL did not have an All-Star game due to the lockout, but the 2012 edition had 1.3 million viewers.
While the World Series and NBA Finals outperformed the Pro Bowl ratings-wise, no other contests that the three other major sports leagues presented really came that close.
So while it may continue to be a laughing-stock for years to come, as long as the Pro Bowl continues to draw a significant number of eyeballs, don’t expect it to go away anytime soon.