Michael Jordan Doc ‘The Last Dance’ Brings ESPN Record Ratings

The Last Dance (Courtesy ESPN)

ESPN’s much-anticipated 10-hour series The Last Dance about NBA legend Michael Jordan made history as the most-watched documentary ever on the sports network.

The Last Dance offered viewers never-before-seen footage of the 1997-98 NBA championship season of the Chicago Bulls. The embedded camera crew captured Jordan’s extraordinary career journey and took viewers inside the action during Jordan and coach Phil Jackson’s winning season.

The first two episodes, which aired on Sunday (April 19), averaged 6.1 million viewers on ESPN and ESPN2, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  The first episode at 9 p.m. ET was watched by 6.3 million viewers on the two networks, while episode two drew 5.8 million viewers. The two hours averaged 3.5 million viewers in the key adults 18-49 demo, with a 2.7 rating. The version that aired on ESPN was uncensored, while ESPN2 bleeped out profanities.

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The series almost doubled the numbers for the previous record holder, You Don’t Know Bo, about baseball and football star Bo Jackson.

Initially, the project was scheduled to launch in June but ESPN moved it up after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of live sporting events.

Two hour-long episodes will air each week on Sunday at the same time, with the final two episodes scheduled for May 17. It will also be shown on Netflix outside the U.S.