Although NFL football is consistently the most popular live-entertainment programming of the year, its Pro Bowl event had seen declining numbers for several years running. So in 2017, the league, along with its television partner ESPN, decided to liven things up with a new event: the Pro Bowl Skills Challenge, a series of slightly irreverent - and undeniably entertaining - games pitting players from the NFC against the AFC.
The ATS Team was asked to create the framework for the games, which included a passing-accuracy game, a catching game where a drone dropped footballs from 100 feet in the sky, and even an old-fashioned game of dodgeball. While there was not necessarily a high degree of difficulty in creating the games themselves, the specifications were exacting. Everything had to be approved by the NFL before the players were allowed to participate. Even more restrictive was the time allotment: the entire one-hour program had to be set up, filmed, and taken down in roughly two hours.
Fortunately, The ATS Team was able to meet the challenge, and the results were beyond our wildest expectations. The NFL players to love participating in the games, and their joy translated into huge ratings and critical praise. One million viewers tuned in to the show, making it ESPN's most-watched program of the day and creating a buzz for the Skills Challenge to evolve into a marquee event of the Pro Bowl weekend.
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