Last weekend, ESPN debuted the first two episodes of the anticipated documentary series The Last Dance, a chronicle of NBA superstar Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls as they made a run for what would become their final championship season. The premiere was bumped up to April from June since ESPN is desperate for programming due to the lack of sports happening around the world, and it worked out rather well for them since it’s now their most-watched documentary ever.
ESPN has a press release announcing The Last Dance ratings, which averaged 6.1 million viewers for the first two episodes on both ESPN and ESPN 2 (the latter airing a more family friendly version with less salty language). The first episode started off with 6.3 million, but apparently some people didn’t keep up for the second episode, which dropped a little to 5.8 million viewers. It was still enough to make it the series premiere the the two most-viewed original content broadcasts on ESPN Networks since 2004, and it had no problem surpassing the 2012 documentary film You Don’t Know Bo, which nabbed 3.6 million viewers.
When it comes to 2020, The Last Dance is now the most-viewed program since the college football National Championship Game, which pulled in a gargantuan 25.5 million viewers. That makes it the most watched telecast across broadcast and cable in the key demographics 18-49 since sports stopped last month.
It should come as no surprise that the top market for The Last Dance was none other than Chicago, followed by Raleigh-Durham (since Michael Jordan played college ball in North Carolina) in the #2 slot. Charlotte, where Michael Jordan owns the professional basketball team the Charlotte Hornets, was also in the top five markets.
If you haven’t watched The Last Dance, it’s a must-see television event. Director Jason Hehir has put together a fascinating chronicle of one of the most exciting times in professional basketball, following the greatest basketball player of all-time, when he was surrounded by some of the most talented players the sport has ever seen. It serves as an incredible, warts-and-all look at the legacy of the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s.
The Last Dance will continue with new episodes every Sunday on ESPN and ESPN2 at 9:00 P.M. EST through May 17.
- Sunday, April 26, 9:oo P.M. ET — Episodes 3 and 4
- Sunday, May 3, 9:oo P.M. ET — Episodes 5 and 6
- Sunday, May 10, 9:oo P.M. ET — Episodes 7 and 8
- Sunday, May 17, 9:oo P.M. ET — Episodes 9 and 10
If you missed the first two episodes, you can sign up for Hulu with Live TV and watch them on-demand or get the ESPN app with ESPN+. If you’re outside of the United States, The Last Dance is available on Netflix.
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