2010 Pro Bowl Moving To ESPN

Event will be changed to take place a week before the Super Bowl

The 2010 NFL Pro Bowl is returning to cable. ESPN will televise the game which has often been a yearly staple on broadcast networks with Super Bowl rights (ESPN did televise the game from 2004-2006). NBC will broadcast the next one in 2009.

Traditionally the network with rights to the Super Bowl has the option of purchasing rights to the Pro Bowl, CBS apparently declined its option for 2010.

“ESPN presents year-round coverage of the NFL and will work together with the league to promote the 2010 Pro Bowl as one of the kickoff events to Super Bowl XLIV week in South Florida,” said John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, program acquisitions and strategy.

In addition, for the first time the NFL is moving the Pro Bowl up to the week before the Super Bowl in an effort to boost ratings. It will also be played in the Super Bowl's host city of Miami.

“Moving the Pro Bowl to the Sunday prior to the Super Bowl can add even more excitement to Super Bowl week, one of the most anticipated weeks of the year,” said Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president of events.  “Taking the Pro Bowl to new locations can showcase our top players to more fans around the country."

The game has been played in Hawaii since 1980 and was televised the week after the Super Bowl. That meant all the players were available and the weather would be nice, but by then fan interest would have slowed somewhat.

Last month the BCS announced that its games would be leaving broadcast for the more fertile soil of ESPN on cable.