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ESPN Will Broadcast Two Versions Of ‘The Last Dance,’ One With And One Without Cursing

Sunday, ESPN will give the people what they’ve been clamoring for when they debut The Last Dance, their highly anticipated 10-hour long documentary of the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls.

The initial June release date was pushed up after fans effectively begged ESPN to move it up with no live sports programming happening right now. Once the documentary was completed, ESPN obliged and fans will be able to immerse themselves in the footage and interviews conducted for the marathon documentary soon. The Last Dance is expected to do huge ratings for ESPN, and they want to ensure that everyone is able to take it in, which is why they will have two broadcasts of the documentary.

The first will be on ESPN proper and will feature all of the cursing and foul language as it happened, unedited. The other, as Variety first reported on Wednesday morning, will be a family friendly version that bleeps cursing on ESPN2.

“We take a lot of pride in sports as a communal viewing experience. All members of the family get to watch this,” says Connor Schell, executive vice president of content at ESPN, in an interview. “We felt this was the right thing to do.” Hearing the unedited interviews, he adds, “makes it feel more honest and more authentic and raw.”

On ESPN, viewers will hear every ‘F,’ ‘MF’ and ‘S.’ On ESPN2, those letters (when attached to words that are deemed scurrilous) will be bleeped out or masked by dropped audio.

For most of us, we’ll be dialed in to that ESPN broadcast, enjoying the raw, unedited audio of those legendary Bulls practices — and the colorful interviews that will be coupled with them. However, those quarantined with small kids will be appreciative of the family friendly offering with those words edited out, as ESPN looks to draw eyeballs from viewers of all ages.