The 2011 Pro Bowl will be played a week before Super Bowl XLV and return to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, the NFL announced Tuesday. The game will be televised live on Sunday, Jan. 30 on FOX at 7 p.m. ET. FOX will televise Super Bowl XLV a week later on Sunday, Feb. 6 from Cowboys Stadium in North Texas.
The decision to play the NFL's All-Star Game the week before the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year follows a significant increase in viewership for the 2010 Pro Bowl, the first Pro Bowl to precede the Super Bowl.
The 2010 Pro Bowl on ESPN was watched by an average of 12.3 million viewers, the most for a Pro Bowl since 2000 (13.2 million viewers) and a 40 percent increase from the 2009 game (8.8 million viewers). The 12.3 million viewers also marked the largest viewership for an All-Star game in any sport on cable television. The game at Sun Life Stadium in South Florida also attracted the largest Pro Bowl attendance (70,697) in 50 years.
The Pro Bowl format was discussed last week with the NFL Players Association and a group of players during a meeting with the Competition Committee in Indianapolis.
"Playing the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl generated more excitement and interest in the event and also kicked off Super Bowl week in an innovative new way," said Frank Supovitz, the NFL's senior vice president of events. "We are pleased to return to the state of Hawaii, which has embraced the Pro Bowl for 30 years."
The Pro Bowl's return to Hawaii, where it had been held consecutively from 1980 to 2009, is part of a two-year agreement between the NFL and the state of Hawaii to play the 2011 and 2012 games there.