It might have been Beyonce, Taylor Swift and CBS's night overall with the Grammys, but the National Football League's repositioned All-Star game also score well with the Nielsens last night.
ESPN averaged 12.3 million viewers with its coverage of the 2010 Pro Bowl, the most for the NFL's All-Star game since ABC posted 13.2 million watchers in 2000. The game, a 41-34 triumph for the AFC, which evened the series between the conferences at 20 games apiece, continued the NFL's record-setting ratings season, scoring a 40% increase from the 8.8 million who tuned in the 2009 game on NBC.
The 2010 Pro Bowl became the most-watched All-Star game in cable history, surpassing the Feb. 9, 2003 NBA All-Star Game, which dunked 10.8 million viewers, in Michael Jordan's last appearance in the contest.
The last three times ESPN carried the Pro Bowl, the network averaged a 4.8 cable rating and 6.36 million viewers on Feb. 8, 2004, a 5.1 rating and 6.16 million on Feb. 13, 2005 and a 4.5 and 5.96 million on Feb. 12, 2006.
The Jan. 31 matchup served as a lead-in to Super Bowl week in South Florida, which will culminate with the NFL title game, also at Sun Life Stadium on Feb. 7. The 2010 Pro Bowl marked a scheduling departure -- the contest is typically played in Hawaii the week after the Super Bowl. In the game's first appearance in the host city of the Big Game, the Pro Bowl registered its highest attendance, 70,697, since 1959.
The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards -- beginning at 8 p.m. and overlapping the Pro Bowl, which kicked off at 7:20 p.m. - averaged 25.8 million watchers for CBS, according to Nielsen data, its best performance since 2004. Beyonce won six Grammys, the most ever for a woman, including song of the year for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," while Taylor Swift grabbed four, notably album of the year for "Fearless."
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