Viewership numbers from 'The Last Dance' prove Michael Jordan documentary was a smash hit

Unsurprisingly, “The Last Dance” has dominated the sports world in recent weeks.

Not only was the 10-part documentary a thrilling look into Michael Jordan’s time with the Chicago Bulls, but it also premiered during a time when almost all of the sports world had come to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, days after the final episodes premiered, it’s clear just how dominant the documentary was.

The documentary averaged more than 5.6 million viewers per episode during its 5-week run, and is pulling in nearly 13 million viewers an episode from on-demand viewing, ESPN announced on Thursday.

“We are thrilled with the response from fans throughout the run of the series,” ESPN executive vice president Connor Schell said in a statement. “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.”

Premiere numbers

“The Last Dance” averaged 5.648 million viewers across all 10 episodes when they premiered on Sunday nights the past five weeks — making it the most-watched ESPN documentary of all time.

The first episode had the largest audience at 6.34 million, while the eighth episode had the lowest at 4.918 million. That was the only episode to pull in fewer than five million viewers.

Per the report, it was the top program across all of television since live sports were stopped in mid-March due to the coronavirus among men between the ages of 18-54. All 10 episodes are in the top-13 most-watched sports shows on television during that timeframe, too.

Naturally, Chicago residents were glued to their TVs each week. The city led with a 12.0 market rating, more than double that of the next closest market. Both Raleigh-Durham and Greensboro-High Point markets in North Carolina came in second with a 5.4 market rating each. Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Nashville and Louisville also cracked the top-10.

Episodes rapidly gaining viewership

Viewership for all 10 episodes have skyrocketed since their respective premieres, too.

In total, the 10 episodes are averaging 12.876 million viewers through on-demand viewing. The first two episodes have each surpassed 15 million viewers, and the third and fourth have eclipsed the 14-million mark.

Per ESPN, every episode has grown its viewership by at least 122 percent except for the final two — which came out on Sunday. The network expects episodes nine and 10 will hit that mark in the near future.

If you weren’t sold after simply watching the documentary, the numbers have proved it. “The Last Dance” was a smash hit.

Michael Jordan holds up six fingers for each championship of the Chicago Bulls dynasty, on June 16, 1998.
Michael Jordan holds up six fingers for each championship of the Chicago Bulls dynasty, on June 16, 1998. (Chuck Berman/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service/Getty Images)

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