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ESPN's 'The Last Dance' most viewed documentary in network's history

The Bulls' Michael Jordan reaches high above teammates

The Bulls' Michael Jordan reaches high above teammates Dennis Rodman, left, Scottie Pippen, and Scott Burrell for a rebound against the Jazz in the second half of Game 4 in the NBA Finals in Chicago on June 10, 1998. Credit: AP/MICHAEL S. GREEN

"The Last Dance," ESPN's highly anticipated 10-part documentary on the 1990s Bulls, debuted on Sunday night as the most-viewed documentary in the network's history.

Episodes 1 and 2 averaged 6.3 million and 5.8 million viewers on ESPN and ESPN2, and also performed strongly in the younger demographics prized by advertisers.

The previous viewership high for an ESPN documentary was for one on Bo Jackson in 2012, at 3.6 million.

Not surprisingly, Chicago was the highest-rated market for the two hours, averaging 12.1 percent of homes. Three of the next four highest-rated markets came from North Carolina, where Michael Jordan grew up.

Conversations surrounding the show dominated social media. ESPN said that at one point Sunday night, 25 of the top 30 trending topics on Twitter were related to the documentary.

"The Last Dance" had been scheduled to run during the NBA Finals in June, but ESPN moved it up to provide sports-starved fans with new content during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The viewership totals certainly were helped by the number of people stuck in their homes, as those for this week's NFL Draft will be. Viewership for the first round on Thursday night is all but certain to far surpass even "The Last Dance" figures.

"The Last Dance" will be shown on each of the next four Sunday nights, with two episodes per night.

New York Sports