The Last Dance concluded its five-week run with episodes 9 and 10 Sunday night on ESPN and ESPN2. After a slight dip in television ratings for weeks 3 and 4, The Last Dance ratings moved closer to its massive numbers from weeks 1 and 2.
The final two episodes averaged 5.6 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN2, with episode 9 averaging 5.9 million viewers and episode 10 averaging 5.4 million viewers. Episode 9 had the third-highest ratings from the docuseries, behind only episode 1 (6.3 million) and episode 3 (6.1 million). The finale had the seventh-highest ratings, but it was in the 10-11 p.m. ET time slot, and was up nearly 10% from episode 8 (4.9 million in last week’s 10-11 p.m. time slot).
Overall, The Last Dance original airings averaged 5.6 million same-day viewers across the 10 episodes. It’s easily ESPN’s most-watched documentary ever, with every episode blowing away ESPN’s previous documentary ratings record of 3.6 million viewers, set by You Don’t Know Bo in 2012.
Via the ESPN press release (and based on initial Nielsen reporting):
|“The Last Dance” Original Airings|
|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|
“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.”
Keep in mind that many people end up watching the episodes after the original airings (especially due to the late time slots), thanks to re-airings, on-demand, and DVR. ESPN says that a complete report on such numbers will be released this week. In last week’s press release, ESPN said that episodes 1-6 had an average viewership of 12.2 million when “accounting for all airings,” for example.
But even without those numbers accounted for, we can already conclude that The Last Dance has been a slam-dunk success for ESPN.