ESPN Moves Fast On McGwire Vs. Sosa Doc To Ride ‘Last Dance’ Wave

    • Within one week of the conclusion of 'The Last Dance,' ESPN Films will have three new sports docs ready to go.
    • Upcoming films will focus on the home run chase of 1998, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, and martial artist Bruce Lee.

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Building on the momentum generated by ‘The Last Dance,’ ESPN Films has moved up release dates of three new sports documentaries, including an eagerly-awaited look at the Mark McGwire vs. Sammy Sosa home run chase from the summer of 1998.

During an earnings call Tuesday, executives at ESPN’s corporate parent The Walt Disney Co., said they wanted to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the 10-part Michael Jordan-Chicago Bulls-focused documentary, which concludes May 17. 

Through the first six episodes, “The Last Dance” has averaged 5.8 million viewers, 62% more than ESPN’s second-most-watched documentary, a Bo Jackson profile from 2012.

A week after the final episode of ‘The Last Dance,’ ESPN will debut “LANCE,” which centers on disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. The two-part documentary will air May 24 and May 31.

A week later, on June 7, ESPN will debut the Bruce Lee documentary “Be Water.” The film will chronicle Lee’s journey from San Francisco to Hong Kong to Hollywood legend, only to die at age 32 in 1973.

On June 14, the network will feature “Long Gone Summer,” about McGwire and Sosa’s quest to topple Roger Maris’s single-season home run record in the summer of 1998. ESPN says it will include interviews with both McGwire, who has admitted his use of performance-enhancing drugs, and Sosa, who has never come clean.

All three of the documentaries will air on Sundays at 9 pm ET, the same time slot that “The Last Dance is currently finding success in.

The films will be made available on ESPN+ immediately after their respective premieres, unlike “The Last Dance,” which due to a deal with Netflix will not appear on ESPN+ until July 2021.