The Last Dance is coming to Netflix after its initial ESPN release. The Michael Jordan docu-series will be released on Netflix on Sunday, July 19 after only being available outside the United States. Netflix did not officially announce the time of the release, but most series are available at 3 a.m. on the initial day it is on the platform.
The Jordan documentary is expected to reach a new audience after gaining many followers throughout the five weeks new episodes were released on ESPN. Two new episodes were released each week, but Netflix is expected to release all 10 episodes on July 19. For many fans, The Last Dance was the only form of sports people were able to watch during the pandemic with most major leagues coming to a halt.
The Last Dance is the first time viewers were able to see previously unreleased footage of Jordan’s final season with the Bulls. It is not all about the 1997-98 Bulls as each episode features a flashback to earlier parts of Jordan’s career. Additional members of the Bulls are focal points with fans getting an up-close look at Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr and Horace Grant among others.
The Last Dance Features Previously Unreleased Footage of the 1997-98 Bulls
A documentary crew followed the Bulls around during the entire 1997-98 season, but Jordan was previously unwilling to sign off on its release. Jordan finally agreed to release the footage in what turned out to be perfect timing with little other competition in terms of sports programming.
“This footage seeing the light of day and the documentary being made was contingent upon Michael’s cooperation,” director Jason Hehir noted to Deadline. “From the time they started filming [23 years ago], they were allowed access into the locker room during that season with the stipulation that this would never see the light of day unless Michael agreed for the footage to be released.”
Jordan is one of the most iconic athletes in sports history but is also notoriously private. For many, The Last Dance is the first glimpse into the “real Jordan” as the former NBA star pealed back the curtain during surprisingly candid interviews. The first few episodes of the documentary revisit Jordan’s college career at North Carolina.
“You’re gonna see a lot of things that people forgot life was that way,” Jordan told ABC’s Good Morning America. “The thing that people are going to learn, and my kids laugh about it when they see it, but we used postage stamps back in those days, you know. Where I had to ask my mom to send my postage stamps.”
The Jordan Docu-Series Shattered ESPN’s Viewership Records for a Documentary
The Last Dance set records as ESPN’s most-watched documentary with each episode topping You Don’t Know Bo’s 3.6 million viewers, per Hollywood Reporter. The first two episodes reached 6.07 million viewers per show with episode one already amassing more than 15 million total viewers by May.
The lengthy series was initially scheduled to coincide with June’s NBA finals but ESPN approached Hehir about pushing up the release given the lack of live sports content during COVID-19. Hehir was still making the final episodes as the first part of the series was released, and the director admitted that the documentary benefited from the timing.
“I’m a sports fan myself, and I know that I was starved for content,” Hehir explained to Deadline. “There was a dearth of content out there, not just in games, but any new content in the sports universe. …I think that in such a scary time,” the director observes, “nostalgia is safe, it’s comfortable, it’s a warm place to go back to.”