AMERICAN FANS MISSING SPORTS tuned to ESPN and ESPN2 in droves to watch the first two episodes of “The Last Dance”, the 10-part documentary series about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ quest to win a sixth NBA title in eight years.
“The Last Dance” averaged 6.1 million viewers for episodes 1 and 2 across ESPN & ESPN2 from 9-11 p.m. ET. Of those 6.1 million, 3.5 million were in the 18-49 demo. Episode 1 (9-10 p.m.) averaged 6.3 million viewers and episode 2 (10-11 p.m.) averaged 5.8 million viewers. In addition to viewership, “The Last Dance” dominated the conversation on social media.
On ESPN alone, the two hours averaged 5.3 million viewers, with episode 1 delivering 5.7 million viewers and episode 2 delivering 5 million.
The premiere episodes rank as the two most-viewed original content broadcasts on ESPN Networks since 2004, surpassing the 2012 film “You Don’t Know Bo” (3.6 million). This year, it is also the most-viewed telecast on ESPN since the CFP National Championship Game. Additionally, “The Last Dance” ranks as the most-watched telecast among adults 18-34 and 18-49 since sports halted across broadcast and cable networks.
The top 5 metered markets ESPN and ESPN2 included: Chicago (12.1 rating), Raleigh-Durham (6.5 rating), Norfolk (4.9 rating), Charlotte (4.7 rating), Greensboro (4.7 rating).
The West Coast Prime re-airs at 12am ET averaged an additional 794,000 viewers, of which 414,000 were in the 18-49 demo. Episode 1 averaged 903,000 viewers and episode 2 averaged 685,000 viewers.
The development provides some relief for the The Walt Disney Co.-owned network, which has seen the largest declines among major cable TV channels since the COVID-19 virus forced the postponement or cancellation of most live sporting events, Bloomberg reports. ESPN, like other sports channels, has scrambled for content that people will want to watch, adding replays of famous matches and more documentary content.
“The Last Dance” dominates cultural conversation
The Last Dance premiere dominated cultural conversation and interest as the #1 trending topic yesterday on Twitter and at one point, 25 of the 30 trending topics were all related to the show. It was also the top Google Search Trend in the US on Sunday.
On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, “Last Dance” posts from ESPN accounted for a combined 9 million engagements. Two pre- and two post-digital live shows combined for 3.5M viewers and 2.6M minutes.