Pro Bowl ratings decline for sixth straight year

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Fewer and fewer people are watching the Pro Bowl.

The NFL’s all-star game drew a 4.6 overnight rating for ESPN, which was the sixth straight decline. The Pro Bowl got a 5.0 last year, a 5.6 in 2015, a 6.7 in 2014, a 7.7 in 2013, a 7.9 in 2012 and an 8.6 in 2011.

The flip side is, that rating is still far better than the vast majority of programming draws. The Pro Bowl drew more than twice as many viewers as the Kentucky-Kansas college basketball game ESPN aired on Saturday, and that game was ESPN’s most-watched college basketball game of the season.

So while the Pro Bowl continues to disappoint from the NFL’s perspective, it also continues to succeed compared to the vast majority of programming on television. Throw in the promising start for the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown, and the league and its TV partner ESPN surely see Pro Bowl week as something to build on, not something to scrap.

22 responses to “Pro Bowl ratings decline for sixth straight year

  1. Sean McDonough has a voice that puts people to sleep. It’s really hard to watch any game that he is doing. It’s nothing personal against him but he is not right to call a football game. Chuckie brings the energy but he needs a better partner

  2. Not sure why everyone seems so surprised by the ratings decline. This game is brutal to watch and has been for a few years now.

    But that being said, it still shows how the NFL dominates sports programming if this game draws a bigger audience than KU/UK.

  3. Perhaps part of the reason for a downturn in viewing was due to the fact that it was not accessible to many, and was aired at an obscure time for those of us in the west (10 & 11 pm on a work/school night). I went to a pre-SB party Sunday and it was the intention to watch the Probowl but in rural Arizona the particular ESPN channel wasn’t even available to watch the skills portion and the Probowl itself didn’t air till 10pm!
    I had been watching the skills activities prior to Sunday (in Phoenix) and found them highly entertaining and had looked forward to watching the actual game with friends. I did DVR it so was able to watch it later and enjoyed it.
    Seems like the NFL is doing everything possible to sabotage the ProBowl which has been a sort of
    closing of the season ritual for many die-hard football fans, because they are too greedy and cheap. I agree with Richard Sherman that they should pay the players who make the ProBowl at least a game check as well as return the even to Hawaii.
    This is an exhibition game and is for fun, which many apparently don’t understand; it was never meant to be a mini-SB. Fans need to lighten up and understand that competition can be fun without being cutthroat. LOL, many of the games played this year wouldn’t “pass” the test expected by some of the “fans” if being graded for

  4. Ratings are down for this meaningless game because:
    A) All of the superstars pretty much beg off if they got a hangnail
    B) Because of A) above, they are forced to start guys like Alex Smith aka Captain Checkdown. When he’s your starting “Pro Bowl QB”, then you know you are getting the dregs.
    C) The players who do show up barely give any effort, especially on defense which is why Graham got upset when he actually was hit with a real tackle. I can’t blame them here (see what happened last year to Tyler Eifert).

    Just turn it into an all skills competition which is kinda fun. Plus we can laugh at guys like Captain Checkdown above trying to play dodgeball as he awkwardly throws the ball 15ft when the other team is 20ft away. Good times!

  5. I didnt watch it in its entirety because I dont pay for cable, it wasnt available online without a cable subscription and NFL mobile keeps crashing and chugs data. From what I saw, it was a much better game this year with players actually tackling each other and putting in an effort.

    This really brings up a larger issue for the NFL. They could EASILY make access to these games quick and easy, but instead force you through cable pay walls at every turn. The NFL needs to turn Sunday Ticket into an independent streaming service and expand it to every game

  6. I like the idea of it being just an award, and inviting the players to be at the superbowl.

    They can see the game in person, be part of the fan experience and not risk injury (excluding alcohol poisoning).

  7. The Pro Bowl ranks right up there with pro wrestling.
    Both are equally real.


    Oh how dare you compare the two. Pro wrestling can at least be entertaining at times.

  8. it’s because its before the Super Bowl IDIOTS!!! Extend the season 1 more week after the super bowl so everyone can play!!! It’s not that hard IDIOTS!!!

  9. It is a joke compared to years ago. It’s a look at me game, no excitment all about how cool they look with no point to the game.
    It should be taken seriously and the winners get to be the home team at the next Super Bowl.
    It should be played after the Super Bowl like it use to be so all players chosen can go.
    If you do not want to go stay home and if you do get to go don’t complain about the pay Richard Sherman.

  10. Just stick to skills competition.

    From lack luster tackling to the other end of the scale with Jimmy Graham thowing a hissy fit when he was hit by a defender, the game is a joke.
    It isn’t worth the risk for players. While just getting out of the shower one can fall and get injured. Can you imagine if Dak or Zek blew a knee in this pretend game. Jerry Jones would have a heart attack.

  11. “Fewer and fewer people are watching the Pro Bowl.”

    More and more people are cutting the cord. Coincidence? Perhaps. But as one may recall, the same thing was being said about Monday Night Football.

  12. The moment a major star or two tears his ACL in the pro bowl. That’s when teams and the league will consider scrapping the game. You can have a “pro bowl” week that honors the best players in the league without actually playing a game. Have some big awards ceremony to honor the players in Hawaii and be done with it. There is no need for the game whatsoever.

  13. Perhaps it should just be about how men with hair like women can give their beauty secrets to the rest of us. Everyone who has snake hair that hangs down to their butt cracks can chime in and Odelphia Beckham can show how to use bleach or cow urine to make that hair beautiful with urine yellow highlights.

    And then the showboats like Cam Cheating and others can show us their dance moves on how they celebrate being losers.

  14. What do they expect when they insist on airing it on a pay tv channel when people are cutting the cable and satellite dishes in droves?

  15. As Clifford and Jeffrey said, it was actually a LOT better this year. I intended to watch just a few plays and scoff, but then I got sucked in because there was actual tackling, sacks, even a goal line stand. (As a result, there was less than half the usual amount of scoring, but that made it a much more entertaining contest.)

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