The Last Dance nets 5.6m for ESPN

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The Last Dance, the docuseries that revolves around the career of NBA legend Michael Jordan, finished strong for its finale, with episodes 9 and 10 averaging 5.6 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN2 in the US on May 17th.

The series has received critical acclaim, and has helped fill a hole for many sports fans as live sporting schedules are decimated around the globe.

Episode 9 averaged 5.9 million viewers, up 10 per cent from last Sunday, becoming the third most watched episode of the series, trailing the record-breaking audiences of episodes 1 and 3. Episode 10 averaged 5.4 million viewers, up 9.8 per cent from last week’s episode 8, which aired in the same time slot.


The original airings of all ten episodes of the series also averaged 5.6 million viewers within the same day, cementing The Last Dance as the most-watched documentary content ever on ESPN. The series started strong on April 19th, with episodes 1 & 2 averaging 6.1 million viewers, becoming the two most-viewed original content broadcasts on ESPN Networks since 2004. Subsequent weeks continued the momentum, with episodes 3 & 4 averaging 5.9 million viewers, episodes 5 & 6 averaging 5.5 million viewers, and episodes 7 & 8 averaging 5.1 million viewers, all of which have become the most watched documentary content on ESPN, surpassing 2012’s You Don’t Know Bo (3.6 million).

“We are thrilled with the response from fans throughout the run of the series,” said Connor Schell, Executive Vice President, Content at ESPN. “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. We are grateful to Jason and his creative team and all of our production partners on the film and look forward to seeing fans continue to engage with The Last Dance in the days and weeks ahead through the ESPN app.”

“The Last Dance” Original Airings
Episode Viewership*
Episode 1 (4/19, 9pm) 6,340,000
Episode 2 (4/19, 10pm) 5,792,000
Episode 3 (4/26, 9pm) 6,143,000
Episode 4 (4/26, 10pm) 5,657,000
Episode 5 (5/3, 9pm) 5,785,000
Episode 6 (5/3, 10pm) 5,214,000
Episode 7 (5/10, 9pm) 5,344,000
Episode 8 (5/10, 10pm) 4,918,000
Episode 9 (5/17, 9pm) 5,891,000
Episode 10 (5/17, 10pm) 5,400,000

*Viewership based on initial Nielsen reporting.

Time-shifted viewing has only increased viewership across the series, including nearly 15 million viewers for episode. A complete report will be released later this week.

The Last Dance was a phenomenon on social media, becoming the #1 trending topic on Twitter for 5 straight Sundays. It was the #1 most social series on a per episode basis across TV year-to-date and was also among the top 10 primetime programmes across TV overall, including sports events, award shows, and other series.


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