Sunday afternoon, the AFC will challenge the NFC in the often-mocked, largely ignored pre-Super Bowl ritual known as the Pro Bowl. Yet for some reason, around 8 million fans will tune in to watch the meaningless exhibition game on ABC and ESPN, called by Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, and Booger McFarland.
Possibly more interesting than the game itself is ESPN’s decision to offer a simulcast of the event on Disney XD, a channel aimed primarily at kids ages 6 to 15 that’s most known for its Star Wars and Marvel superhero cartoons.
“Considering this is a widely panned exhibition game that most fans would probably prefer the NFL would just go ahead and do away with, what’s the point of the over-saturation?” asked Awful Announcing’s Matt Yoder.
It might seem like a head-scratching decision, but according to an ESPN source, the move gives the network the chance to broaden its audience and reach younger viewers. It also doesn’t hurt that Disney XD is available in 77.5 million households across the country, giving ESPN a chance to maximize its viewership numbers. For what it’s worth, the Pro Bowl’s lead-in on Disney XD is Big City Greens.
In terms of bells-and-whistles, this year’s Pro Bowl telecast will feature in-game audio of the quarterbacks and team captains, all of whom will be mic’d up for the game. The referees — retiring officials Pete Morelli and Walt Coleman — will be equipped with live cameras, and ESPN will deploy something it’s described as a “Line-to-Gain cam.”
The Eagles had three players selected to the Pro Bowl: Tight end Zach Ertz, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, and offensive lineman Brandon Brooks. But all three are sitting out from today’s game, due to various injuries. Two Eagles players will make it onto the field this afternoon as Pro Bowl alternates: offensive lineman Lane Johnson and safety Malcolm Jenkins.
Here’s everything you need to know to watch today’s game:
When: Sunday, Jan. 27
Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
Time: 3 p.m.
TV: ABC, ESPN, Disney XD (Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland, Lisa Salters)
Spanish: ESPN Deportes (Eduardo Varela, Pablo Viruega, John Sutcliffe)
Radio: 94.1 WIP via Westwood One (Kevin Kugler, Tony Boselli, Laura Okmin)
Streaming: ABC app, ESPN app (require cable authentication), FuboTV, NFL GamePass, YouTube (all require a subscription)
Mobile: NFL Mobile app and Yahoo Sports app (free on smartphones and tablets within the Philadelphia market)
Referees: Pete Morelli, Walt Coleman
Suzy Kolber will host a Pro Bowl edition of Postseason NFL Countdown at 1 p.m. on ESPN. She’ll be joined by analysts Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss, Charles Woodson, and Louis Riddick. The special edition of NFL Countdown will also feature news from NFL Insider Adam Schefter and the NFL FLAG National Championship for 13- and 14-year-old boys.