A still from 'The Last Dance.' (ESPN/File)
ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary, “The Last Dance,” has overtaken Netflix Inc.’s “Tiger King” as the most in-demand documentary in the world, a boost for the cable giant at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has shut down live sports and slashed its audience ratings.
“The Last Dance” was one of the 20 most in-demand shows in the world this week, according to Parrot Analytics, a research firm that tracks audience interest using data that includes social-media conversations and piracy. The show is even more popular in the US, where it ranked as 11th this week.
The past few months have been a landmark moment for documentaries, which have have historically attracted much smaller audiences than sitcoms, scripted dramas and reality TV. “Tiger King” was one of the most-watched TV series on Netflix in the first quarter of the year, while “The Last Dance” is the most-watched documentary in the history of ESPN.
This is especially true for sports documentaries, which are the closest substitute fans have for fresh programming at the moment. Sports networks have lost millions of viewers due to the cancellation of live events.
“We are tracking a rise in demand for sports documentaries during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Steve Langdon, a director of partnerships at Parrot.
While new episodes of “The Voice” and “Blue Bloods” still outdrew “The Last Dance” in the US, the basketball series is currently as in-demand around the world as hit shows like “The Mandalorian” and “Friends,” according to Parrot. The firm doesn’t measure actual viewership numbers, but its data provides a good insight into what people around the world are trying to watch online.
Netflix holds the rights to “The Last Dance” overseas, and will get the show in the US over the summer. So the streaming service is involved in the two biggest documentary hits of 2020.
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