The Last Dance Premiere Episodes Broke ESPN Ratings Records 

With the world quarantined inside the house and the opportunity to reach more eyes than it ever imagined, The Last Dance series premiere episodes were the most-viewed ESPN documentary content ever, averaging 6.1 million viewers

It was also the most-watched telecast among adults 18-34 and 18-49 since sports halted across broadcast and cable networks. Episode 1 averaged 6.3 million viewers and Episode 2 averaged 5.8 million viewers across ESPN & ESPN2.

Fans missing sports, tuned to ESPN and ESPN2 in droves to watch the first two episodes of the 10-part documentary series about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ quest to win a sixth NBA title in eight years. 

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On ESPN alone, the two hours averaged 5.3 million viewers, with episode 1 delivering 5.6 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 “You Don’t Know Bo” (3.6 million).

 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 rated metered markets for 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.

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Social Media Domination

 In addition to viewership, The Last Dance dominated the 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.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.