Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Ratings suggest Pro Bowl Skills Showdown is here to stay

Pro Bowl

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 29: An NFL Pro Bowl logo is displayed prior to the NFL Pro Bowl at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on January 29, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Getty Images

The NFL tried something a little different before the Pro Bowl this year, with a “Skills Showdown” that allowed players to show what they can do in passing accuracy, catching footballs dropped by drones and even a dodgeball game. The early returns suggest that the Skills Showdown will be back.

The one-hour show aired on ESPN and drew 989,000 viewers, making it ESPN’s most-watched program on Thursday.

With ratings like that, it’s likely that not only will the NFL bring the Skills Showdown back, but that ESPN will move it into a better time slot, perhaps airing it live in prime time and giving it the kind of promotion that ESPN gives Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby.

The Pro Bowl and its associated events never draw the kind of ratings that the NFL gets for regular-season games, but they still draw good enough ratings that the NFL sees no reason to call the whole thing off. If anything, the Skills Showdown shows that the events around Pro Bowl are only going to grow.