Michael Jackson’s Sales, Streaming & Airplay Decline After ‘Leaving Neverland’ Broadcast

Radio airplay drops the most noticeably of the three metrics.

HBO’s new documentary LeavingNeverland, which chronicles allegations of sexual abuse by Michael Jackson, led to a dip in sales, streaming and airplay for his catalog of music in the U.S., according to initial reports to Nielsen Music.

The first two hours of the four-hour Neverland film debuted on HBO on Sunday, March 3, and the second two hours bowed on the network a day later.

Jackson’s combined album and song sales — including his work with the Jackson 5and The Jacksons — dipped 4 percent in the shadow of the Neverland premiere. His combined sales on March 3-5 totaled nearly 8,000, down from the little over 8,000 on the previous Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Feb. 24-26).

Breaking that down further, looking at just album sales, his total fell by 39 percent in that span (dropping to about 1,000, down from nearly 2,000). Conversely, his song sales increased by 6 percent (rising to nearly 7,000 up from 6,000).

Michael Jackson photographed in 1988 in Kansas City.


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In terms of on-demand audio and video streams, Jackson’s tunes saw a decline of 5 percent, falling to 19.7 million on March 3-5, down from 18.7 million on Feb. 24-26.

Viewing Jackson’s radio airplay picture, spins of his songs fell by 13 percent to 5,200 plays across all monitored U.S. terrestrial and satellite radio stations on March 3-5 (down from 6,000 on Feb. 24-26).

Notably, there was a marked decline in plays for Jackson’s songs on Tuesday, March 5 (the day after the second part of Neverland’s airing) versus Sunday, March 3 (the day of the premiere of Neverland).

On Tuesday, March 5 his songs’ spin total was 1,600 — down 18 percent compared to that of Sunday, March 3 (1,900). If we scrolled back to the week previous, looking at Tuesday, Feb. 26, his songs got a little over 2,000 plays – down just 3 percent compared to his spins on Sunday, Feb. 24 (1,950).

It’s unclear if any of Jackson’s albums or songs will see any major impact on next week’s Billboard charts (dated March 16, reflecting the sales and streaming week ending March 7). All of Billboard’s charts dated March 16 are slated to be posted to Billboard’s websites on March 12. Reporting of chart rankings will begin to appear within stories starting March 10.


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