Michael Jordan Documentary Last Dance Boosts ESPN Ratings

The documentary series Last Dance chronicles Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the late 90s, as they work to win their sixth NBA championship in eight years. The first two episodes of the ten-part series have attracted an average of 6.1 million viewers, according to Variety, making it ESPN’s most-viewed original content since 2004.

The ratings success will be welcome news for the Disney-owned sports network, with widespread cancellations of sporting events and leagues signalling a dearth of content for both ESPN and ESPN2.

Like other films and TV shows, the documentary’s release was pushed forward to adapt to the unprecedented circumstances, having been originally scheduled to air in June alongside the NBA finals.

Two versions of the documentary are being put to air–one leaving the participants’ profanities uncensored for ESPN, while a more family-friendly version airs on ESPN2.

The Last Dance episodes 3 and 4 will air back-to-back on Sunday April 26, starting at 9 PM ET. Outside of the US, The Last Dance is available on Netflix.

ESPN has adapted to the pandemic in other ways, such as their broadcast of the NBA2K Players Tournament, where NBA stars face off in the virtual version of their game. With most other sports cancelled, esports has now been pushed into the spotlight in a big way.

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