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State of the Screens

ESPN Invokes The Force of Disney To Market Michael Jordan Doc

By April 24, 2020No Comments

The plan: Disney treated the release of The Last Dance like a feature film and began building hype 18 months before the original release (June 2020).

The result #1: The Last Dance was ESPN’s highest-rated original ever and their most-watched program since the College Football Playoff.

Most-watched 30 for 30 Premieres according to Nielsen/ESPN:
The Last Dance (Part 1) – 6.3M
The Last Dance (Part 2) – 5.8M
You Don’t Know Bo – 3.6M
O.J.: Made in America (Part 1) – 3.4M
The Fab 5 – 2.8M

Paging Granny Screens: We may need you to break quarantine and FedEx Mr. Screens his all-black Chicago Bulls Starter jacket from the 90s!

The result #2: This level of viewership is a huge (and much needed) win for ESPN and its advertisers.

Top advertisers by the number of spots according to
State Farm – 10
Reese’s – 8
Facebook/Portal – 8
NBA – 4

Ad of the night: State Farm and Kenny Mayne Brilliantly Faked Us All Out During The Last Dance

Big question: Who is the chyron writer for ESPN?

Key background details for The Last Dance:
1) 500 hours of behind the scenes video content from the 1997-98 season
2) Michael Jordan had veto rights before the final release
3) A deep dive on getting Jordan’s sign off and the 30 for 30 series as a whole

Quote from Adam Silver – Commissioner @ NBA:
“I’ll take David’s quote and apply it to Andy.. Andy had an unlimited budget, then he exceeded it.”

The full release schedule:

More #1: Michael Jordan Will Now Interrupt Your Quarantine

More #2: Behind-the-Scenes: An Homage to Michael Jordan

More #3: ESPN Plus Launching 1998 Chicago Bulls Companion Series to ‘The Last Dance’

Michael Beach

Michael Beach

Michael Beach is the Chief Executive Officer of Cross Screen Media, a media analytics and software company that enables marketers to plan, activate, and measure CTV and linear TV at the local level. Michael is also the founder and editor of State of the Screens, a weekly newsletter focused on video advertising that is a must-read for thought leaders in the advertising industry. He has appeared in such publications as PBS Frontline, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Axios, CNBC and Bloomberg, and on NPR’s Planet Money podcast.

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