Pro Bowl Experience and Declining NFL Viewership

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By Thomas Ford Jr, @TomFordJr37 (Cazenovia College)

With events such as dodgeball, the NFL tried to spur lackluster interest in the Pro Bowl. Photo via Gregory Payan

With events such as dodgeball, the NFL tried to spur lackluster interest in the Pro Bowl. Photo via Gregory Payan

Football is one of the more controversial sports in the country. Viewed by some in the public eye as a violent and dangerous sport, it has been found that playing football can lead to a retirement wrought with pain and suffering. Amongst other things, these recent medical discoveries have perpetuated a decline in NFL interest.

More specifically, this decline in NFL viewership can be quantified by the organization losing nearly two million viewers per game in comparison to the 2015-2016 NFL season according to a piece from Forbes' Brian Goff.

However, in the midst of a loss of viewers, the NFL is still a powerful and profitable entity.

The loss in viewers that the sport has endured has not slowed down any of the big-name sponsors. These sponsors have found ways to revive NFL traditions, like the Pro Bowl, and make it more appealing to the players.

Each MVP of this season’s Pro Bowl, Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs) and Lorenzo Alexander (Buffalo Bills), received a 2017 Hyundai Genesis G90 for their performance in Orlando.

Hyundai providing the Pro Bowl MVP with a vehicle was a move to help increase the sales of the Genesis G90 within the luxury car market, controlled mostly by Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Lexus, and BMW according to Statista.

The spotlight of the Pro Bowl can give an incentive to the players while also providing Hyundai an advantage competing against the top luxury car manufactures around the world.

In addition to advertising ploys, the NFL decided to add another aspect to this year’s Pro Bowl festivities: a skills challenge.

The event consisted of two different catching challenges, a throwing challenge, a relay race and a game of dodgeball between the two conferences.

The skills challenge was revived in an effort to draw in more viewers, but, game viewership hit a new low of a 4.6 overnight rating in 2017.

That’s an eight percent decline from 2016, according to Sports Media Watch.

The skills challenge may not have been effective in increasing viewership for the Pro Bowl, but it helped lighten the dark shadow cast over the NFL in recent years. The family-friendly event was successful in altering some of the negative opinions recently formed about the NFL surrounding its handling of various controversial situations.

The NFL is a league in desperate need of some positivity and the adjustments made to the Pro Bowl, with the help of its sponsors, have helped point the needle in the right direction.

Thomas Ford Jr. is a second-year student at Cazenovia College working towards a degree in Sports Management. He is currently on the baseball team, and is very interested in interning for a Minor League Baseball team in the future.

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