Through four of its 10 episodes, The Last Dance has been a tremendous success for ESPN, generating fantastic ratings and rave reviews. The five-week docuseries — focusing on Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls — is available in a variety of ways to ESPN subscribers, but cord-cutters have no access to it. Netflix subscribers will be able to see the docuseries within a few months, but ESPN+ subscribers that don’t have either ESPN or Netflix will have to wait a long time.
Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that The Last Dance won’t arrive on ESPN+ until July 2021, due to distribution arrangements that were made before ESPN+ launched in April 2018. Netflix has U.S. rights to The Last Dance for a year, beginning in mid-July.
That is because of distribution arrangements for ‘The Last Dance’ that were completed ahead of ESPN+’s launch in April 2018.
Starting in mid-July, Netflix will have the U.S. rights to the documentary for a year. That means ESPN+ subscribers won’t get it until July 2021. Netflix also gets international rights to each episode the day after it premieres.
(Decider reports — with confirmation from ESPN — that The Last Dance will hit Netflix in the U.S. on July 19, 2020.)
Subscribing to ESPN+ doesn’t include free access to ESPN (it requires a separate paid TV subscription), which ends up being a surprise to many of the streaming service’s users.
So I subscribed to ESPN plus and it doesn’t come with ESPN. COME ON!
— Luke Fay (@thelukefay) July 9, 2019
Hey Kevin, we apologize but The Last Dance is not accessible with an ESPN+ subscription. You will need a TV provider linked to the app or web page in order to watch content on ESPN. Here is a link to some TV providers that offer ESPN in their packages: https://t.co/0xrZBgyIzE https://t.co/eGg4TRTjnr
— ESPN+ Help (@ESPNPlusHelp) April 27, 2020
And one of the reasons many people spend $4.99/month or $49.99/year (or do the $12.99 bundle with Disney+ and Hulu) to subscribe to ESPN+ is due to its large ESPN Films and original programming library. That’s one of the main selling points.
Not having immediate access to the most popular ESPN documentary ever is already frustrating enough to ESPN+ subscribers, especially with zero sports going on during the COVID-19 pandemic.
— Michael (@CementHead70) April 27, 2020
Soooo I CAN’T watch #TheLastDance via #ESPNplus @ESPNPlusHelp??? Isn’t seeing programming like this the whole purpose of having ESPN+???!! Why am I paying monthly for this streaming platform?? ????♂️???? ????
— Duke Korey (@DukeKorey) April 27, 2020
So, cord-cutters won’t be happy to learn that they have to wait until July 19 to see The Last Dance on Netflix, or another 15 months to see it on ESPN+.