2020 Shortlist

The Last Dance

Entrant Company: ESPN Films

  • Best Athlete Storytelling
The Last Dance

How does entry represent "Excellence in Engagement"?

All 10 episodes rank in the top 13 most-watched sports shows, with ESPN programming accounting for 12 of the 13 shows on the list, since March 13, the day sports halted. Across sports and non-sports programming, The Last Dance also ranks as 10 of the 11 most-watched telecasts among the key 18-34 demo since mid-March.

Objective: As society navigates this time without live sports, viewers are still looking to the sports world to escape and enjoy a collective experience. ESPN heard the calls from fans asking us to move up the release date for The Last Dance, and they were happy to announce that they accelerated the production schedule to do just that. This project celebrates one of the greatest players and dynasties ever, and we hope it can serve as a unifying entertainment experience to fill the role that sports often play in our lives, telling a story that will captivate everyone, not just sports fans.

Strategy & Execution: The Last Dance has 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.

Results: ESPN experienced significant audience increases for each episode of “The Last Dance” through time-shifted/on-demand viewing, as fans consumed the critically acclaimed 10-part documentary. he total average audience for all 10 episodes is 12,876,000 viewers (as of May 20, 2020), up 128% from the record-breaking 5.6 million viewers per episode, based on initial Nielsen reporting, the day following the premieres.

Each of the 10 episodes grew over time, as best demonstrated by Episodes 1 and 2, which now have an average audience of 15,339,000 and 15,590,000, respectively, up 142% and 169% from their premieres. Every episode has grown its audience by at least 122%.


  • ESPN Films