Joke about the Pro Bowl all you want — we did plenty last night — but this new format may be here to stay.
The overnight ratings for the Pro Bowl are in, and they are sky high. ESPN got a 7.9 rating, 39% higher than last year’s game which had the advantage of being on NBC, which reaches more homes.
ESPN had the advantage of playing the game in primetime, but the number is a coup for the network. The rating was more than double what it was the last time the Pro Bowl was on ESPN.
No matter the reasons, Commissioner Roger Goodell can point to the ratings and attendance at last night’s game as proof that moving the game up a week was a success. (Sure, the crowd often acted like they were at a funeral. But nearly all the seats were full in the first quarter. The fourth quarter, not so much.)
Goodell said Saturday that the league may keep the Pro Bowl on the Sunday before the Super Bowl next year in Hawaii. After these ratings, we’d be surprised if it didn’t happen.
And with that, we will stop talking about the Pro Bowl for a long time.
UPDATE: More fun with numbers. It was the most-watched Pro Bowl in a decade. 12.3 million viewers tuned in.