Concert special, Jordan doc entice homebound TV viewers

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2019 Invision

FILE - This Feb. 24, 2019 file photo shows Lady Gaga at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif. Through music, Lady Gaga told those stressing during the coronavirus pandemic to smile and Stevie Wonder encouraged viewers to lean on one another. The A-listers kicked off the two-hour TV special "One World: Together At Home" Saturday, April 18, 2020. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK – Lady Gaga, Michael Jordan and the remote Rolling Stones provided television entertainment over the weekend for millions of Americans homebound because of the coronavirus.

Gaga helped organize the “One World: Together at Home” concert that featured musicians like the Stones, Paul McCartney, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John and Lizzo. Shown live Saturday night across 26 networks, it reached 20.7 million people, the Nielsen company said.

That's about on par with similar benefit concerts for Haiti earthquake victims in 2010, which attracted 24.1 million people, and a Hurricane Katrina show seen by 22.1 million people in 2005.

Sports-starved ESPN recorded its biggest audience ever for a documentary on Sunday with the first two of a 10-part series, “The Last Dance,” about the final championship season for Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

The first hour was seen by 6.3 million viewers and the second hour by 5.8 million on Sunday, Nielsen said.

ESPN moved up the air dates for its Jordan documentary from June. With the absence of live sports, ESPN's audience has been down 50% since January, according to the research firm Samba TV.

“Clearly, fans are craving high-quality sports content and we look forward to building upon the momentum in the coming weeks as the series continues to get better with each episode,” said Connor Schell, ESPN's executive vice president of content.

The network hopes for a big audience this Thursday with the start of the annual NFL draft, even as the pandemic has made that less of a show than it would normally be. ESPN also has documentaries on Lance Armstrong, Bruce Lee and the 1998 home run battle between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in the coming months.