Believe it or not, they used to play a real football game for the annual Pro Bowl. The event, made to recognize the NFL’s best players over the past season, used to be a big deal.
But, in recent years, the even has lost its luster. Players are understandably reluctant to play hard in a full-contact football game that means nothing, so the quality of the game went way down.
Coming into the 2022 NFL season, the league decided to revamp the event. They got rid of the actual game and instead replaced it with skills events on Thursday and a flag football game on Sunday.
But, fans apparently did not like the skills competition much, at least according to the ratings.
Pro Bowl Skills Competition draws tepid viewership in debut year https://t.co/cz9MTIjBDV pic.twitter.com/z8HyeaBZmX
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) February 3, 2023
The article said, in part:
The reimagined Pro Bowl Games began on Thursday with an hour and a half Skills Competition, and there wasn’t all that much fan interest.
Per ShowBuzz Daily, 1.063 million viewers watched the 7 PM broadcast on ESPN. That’s fewer viewers than the two and a half hour long Grizzlies-Cavs game on TNT that started at 7:45 PM, which averaged 1.165 million viewers. It did manage to top the 10:15 PM Clippers-Bucks game on TNT, which averaged 1.031 million viewers.
That seems…less than ideal?
In fact, the Pro Bowl Games Skills Competition was outdrawn by the previous three pre-All-Star Game events from the NHL (1.086 million), NBA (4.236 million), and MLB (6.019 million). It also got outdrawn by the “Pro Bowl Celebration” from January 2021, which mainly consisted of highlights and interviews (1.211 million).
It’s pretty surprising that it got beat by similar events in other sports, considering that the NFL is the biggest ratings juggernaut in the world. Who knows, maybe next year’s Pro Bowl skills competition will do better. But, this one was a complete failure.