For the first time in three years, ratings and viewership declined for the NFL Pro Bowl.
Sunday’s NFL Pro Bowl earned a 7.3 final rating and 12.498 million viewers on NBC, down 5% in ratings and 7% in viewership from last year (7.7, 13.406M, FOX), but up 3% and 2%, respectively, from 2010 (7.1, 12.297M, ESPN).
This marks the first time since 2009 — the last time NBC aired the game — that ratings and viewership have declined for the Pro Bowl. Prior to this year, ratings and viewership had grown in four of the past five seasons.
Despite the decline, Sunday’s game ranks as the second-highest rated Pro Bowl since 2000 (8.6, ABC).
In addition, the Pro Bowl earned a higher rating and more viewers than the 2011 MLB All-Star Game (6.9, 10.970M, FOX) and the 2011 NBA All-Star Game (5.2, 9.093M, TNT). [Related: Ratings/Viewership For the Four Major All-Star Games Dating Back to 1995]
Still, the MLB and NBA games were much better draws compared to those leagues’ typical performance. The 6.9 rating for last year’s MLB All-Star Game was 283% higher than the 1.8 average for regular season MLB games on FOX, and the 5.2 for last year’s NBA All-Star Game was 225% higher than the 1.6 average for regular season games on TNT.
By contrast, the 7.3 for the Pro Bowl marks a 43% decline from the 12.9 average for regular season games on NBC.
In fact, the Pro Bowl ranks as the third-lowest rated NFL telecast of the season on NBC (including preseason games). Only the Chargers/Cowboys (6.4) and Saints/Raiders (5.6) preseason games earned lower numbers. Even the Saints’ 62-7 win over the Colts earned a higher rating (7.6), although that game earned fewer viewers (12.465M).
(Final ratings/viewership for Sunday’s game from Media Life Magazine)