ESPN is moving up the air date for its upcoming Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance, to April 19, the company confirmed on Tuesday morning. The 10-part series will cover the rise and fall of the 1990s Chicago Bulls, led by Jordan, with exclusive footage from the team’s 1998 championship season and new interviews with the team as well as famous fans like Barack Obama and Justin Timberlake.
The Last Dance was originally set to debut on ESPN in June, but with the NCAA tournament canceled and NBA games on pause due to social distancing guidelines around the coronavirus, sports fans have been begging the network to release the doc early. LeBron James even got in on the action last week on the NBA podcast “Road Trippin’,” joking, “Listen, if I’m Michael Jordan, I’m going in there and I’m making a conference call and I’m like, ‘OK, what’s the reason that we’re going to hold on to it until June now? Compared to now when everybody is at home?’”
Earlier this month, ESPN claimed that the documentary wasn’t yet finished, and therefore couldn’t be released early. But it seems that pressure from a sports community with a lot of time on their hands and no new games on the horizon was all it took to get the final edit ready to go. In a statement, the network acknowledged the fan response, saying, “We’ve heard the calls from fans asking us to move up the release date for this series, and we’re happy to announce that we’ve been able to accelerate 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.”
ESPN isn’t the only entertainment company adjusting its release schedule in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney (ESPN’s parent company) released Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on digital platforms early, while Universal Pictures made several of its films, including Trolls World Tour and The Hunt, available to buy or rent digitally while still in their theatrical windows.
The first two episodes of The Last Dance will air on ESPN on Sunday, April 19 at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET.
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.