'The Last Dance' continues to set ratings records for ESPN

Official release

May 4, 2020 5:23 PM ET

“The Last Dance” continues to reach massive audiences, averaging 5.8 million viewers across premieres of its first six episodes, which is 62% more viewers than the next-closest documentary debut on ESPN (“You Don’t Know Bo” in 2012). On Sunday, May 3rd, Episodes 5 and 6 averaged 5.5 million viewers across ESPN & ESPN2 from 9-11 p.m. ET, with episode 5 (9-10 p.m.) averaging 5.8 million viewers and episode 6 (10-11 p.m.) averaging 5.2 million viewers, based on initial Nielsen reporting.

As part of its overall audience, the documentary continues to be consumed by the 18-49 demo in a significant manner. Among adults 18-49, episodes 5 and 6 averaged 2.9 million viewers, with episode 5 averaging 3.1 million viewers and episode 6 averaging 2.8 million viewers.

The audiences for the premieres only tell part of the story; a larger overall audience continues to consume the documentary through re-airs and on-demand viewing. After a record-setting initial audience, including all viewing, Episodes 1 and 2 now have an average minute audience of 13 million and 13.1 million, respectively, figures which represent more than a 100% increase from initial Nielsen reporting. In less than one week, Episodes 3 and 4 have seen their audiences increase by 84% and 94%, respectively, from initial Nielsen reporting, now coming in at  11.3 million (Episode 3) and 10.9 million (Episode 4) viewers, both of which are higher figures than Episodes 1 and 2 reported a week after their initial airings. Additional reporting for episodes 5 and 6 will be available this week. 

The top five metered markets for episodes 5 and 6 included: Chicago (11.4 rating), Greensboro (5.7), Raleigh-Durham (5.5 rating), Charlotte (4.7 rating) and San Diego (4.5 rating). As a result of content featuring the New York Knicks, Madison Square Garden and Kobe Bryant, the New York (+11%) and LA (+12%) markets were both up double digits compared to episodes 1 through 4.


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