Michael Jordan may well be the greatest basketball player of all time (although LeBron James might have something to say about that), and the documentary about his historic career has proven to be the biggest in the history of ESPN.
With the ratings for the final two episodes of the docuseries officially in, “The Last Dance” averaged 5.6 million viewers across its 10 episodes, beating all previous numbers put up by ESPN docs.
Episode 9 was watched by around 5.9 million viewers, up 10% from the week before and making it the third most-watched episode of the series, behind only the premiere with 6.3 million and episode 3 with 6.1 million. Oddly enough, the finale lost a little ground on the penultimate episode, drawing 5.4 million pairs of eyeballs.
The first two episodes of “The Last Dance” marked the two most-viewed original content broadcasts on ESPN’s networks since 2004, surpassing the 2012 film “You Don’t Know Bo,” which captured an average viewership of 3.6 million.
“Last Dance,” which chronicles Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in their quest to win their sixth NBA championship in eight years, provided the Disney-owned network with an undoubtedly invaluable viewership boost, as its live sports programming dried up entirely due to the coronavirus pandemic. The plan was originally to air the 10-part series in June to tie it to the NBA Finals, however, the decision to move it up to temporarily plug the content hole will surely be looked back on as a wise decision.
“We are thrilled with the response from fans throughout the run of the series,” said ESPN executive vice president of content Connor Schell. “The past five Sunday nights have brought fans together providing the type of communal viewing experience traditionally reserved for live sports. The exceptional content of the series has cut through culturally and sparked conversations far beyond ESPN platforms.”