Netflix is bringing “The Last Dance” documentary series about Michael Jordan and the ’90s Chicago Bulls team to the U.S. this summer.
ESPN’s “Last Dance,” co-produced with Netflix, debuted this past Sunday (April 19) on ESPN networks and on Netflix outside the U.S. The 10-episode series will run five weeks on ESPN and Netflix internationally, from May 17, before it hits Netflix’s American service.
“The Last Dance” will launch on Netflix within the U.S. on July 19, the corporate announced as a part of its first-quarter 2020 earnings announcement. The streamer netted nearly 16 million subscribers in Q1, attributed to COVID-19 quarantines, quite double its previous estimate.
For ESPN — affected by a scarcity of live sports — the primary two episodes of “Last Dance” were a ratings smash, delivering a mean of 6.1 million viewers and making it the cabler’s most-viewed documentary so far . On Netflix’s Q1 earnings interview Tuesday, chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the corporate “similarly saw enormous viewing round the world on the primary two episodes of ‘The Last Dance,’” but he didn’t offer specific metrics.
“It’s been a win-win for us and ESPN and an excellent win for basketball fans, who’ve been very hungry for brand spanking new programming,” Sarandos said. He said that due to “the complexity of the rights and the footage” it might be very difficult for either ESPN or Netflix to supply “The Last Dance” independently.
“Last Dance,” directed by Jason Hehir (“The Fab Five,” “The ’85 Bears,” “Andre the Giant”), features previously unreleased footage from the Bulls’ 1997-98 season. Separately, to market ESPN’s U.S. linear broadcast, the programmer’s ESPN Plus subscription-streaming service is running a companion series, “Detail: 1998 Chicago Bulls,” featuring Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr and head coach Phil Jackson breaking down key games and moments from that season.