The 2012 Pro Bowl was officially a hit, at least as far as television ratings go. Despite heavy criticism, the Pro Bowl ranked as the second most watched all star game in more than a decade. The only all star game to get more viewers in the past decade was the 2001 Pro Bowl. That year's Pro Bowl brought in 13.4 million viewers, while the 2012 version had 12.5 million viewers.
So how does this effect Cincinnati? Cincinnati reportedly had the sixth-highest overnight rating for the Pro Bowl, with an 11.7/17 rating share. The only cities that showed more interest in the Pro Bowl than Cincinnati were New Orleans, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, and Norfolk. Obviously, only three of those five teams sport an NFL franchise.
The Cincinnati Bengals had four players play in the game on Sunday. The last time the team had so many players participate in the Pro Bowl was in 2005, when five Bengals were invited to the game. This would seem to provide a reason as to why so many Cincinnati homes had the game turned on.
The Pro Bowl has traditionally had its share of detractors over the years. The 2010 Pro Bowl was mostly unpopular with the players and many complained about how the game wasn't played in Hawaii for the first time in decades. This year had a different set of complaints, mostly revolving around effort, and even Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers added to the widespread criticism:
"I'll 'be honest with you," Rodgers said. "I was a little bit disappointed. I felt like some of the guys on the NFC side embarrassed themselves."
Rodgers was part of a play early on in the game that drew heavy criticism from the fans at the game. He seemingly slow-motioned a hand-off to LeSean McCoy, and the fans could sense that the normal urgency of a football game wasn't there.
There are many problems with the Pro Bowl, but fans still tune in. Do they watch to see their favorite players perform one last time this season? Or is it because football fans will watch anything football-related? Do fans like that the games are incredibly high scoring? What ever the reason happens to be, don't look for the league to change the game anytime soon.