In the current NFL TV contract, the over the air networks airing the Super Bowl also air the Pro Bowl in the same year. In the first Super Bowl rotation that began in 2007, CBS, Fox and NBC all aired the all-star exhibition game. However, in the second rotation that started in 2010, CBS informed the NFL that it didn’t want the game and the league gave it to ESPN.
In the regular season schedule that was released Tuesday night, I noticed that while CBS was airing Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on February 3, the NFL listed NBC as airing the Pro Bowl the week prior. I asked an NFL official if that was a mistake, but it was confirmed to me that indeed, NBC will air the Pro Bowl on January 27, 2013.
When it aired the Pro Bowl in 2007, CBS moved the game from its traditional Sunday evening timeslot to Saturday night. Knowing that CBS hates to blow away its Sunday night lineup unless it has a surefire ratings draw like the AFC Championship or Super Bowl to replace it, the Tiffany Network was reluctant to slot the Pro Bowl on a Sunday night.
So for the second time in this current contract, CBS will forgo airing the Pro Bowl and allow another NFL TV partner to pick up the game, in this case NBC, which will air it for the second consecutive year.
In the next NFL TV contract that begins in 2014, this won’t be a problem as ESPN will resume airing the Pro Bowl as it did from 1988 through 2006.