The Eagles' first new studio album in 28 years, "Long Road Out of Eden," takes a short route to No. 1 on The Billboard 200 after Billboard revised a significant chart policy today (Nov. 7).

In consultation with Nielsen SoundScan, Billboard will now allow exclusive album titles that are only available through one retailer to appear on The Billboard 200 and other Billboard charts, effective with this week's charts. Prior to this, proprietary titles were not eligible to appear on most Billboard charts.

Early SoundScan numbers have the Eagles taking the top perch on The Billboard 200 with 711,000 copies sold, with most sales moved by Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores. For now, the only other U.S. outlets carrying "Eden" are walmart.com, where both physical copies and downloads are sold, and the Eagles' own Web site.

"Eden" became available at the mass-market chain Oct. 30. Aside from two compilations, this is the Eagles' first album since the live "Hell Freezes Over," which led The Billboard 200 for two weeks in 1994.

Britney Spears' new Jive album, "Blackout," which would have been No. 1 had the Eagles' data not been reported, will open at No. 2 with first-week sales of 290,000 copies.

"We know that some retailers will be uncomfortable with this policy, but it was inevitable that Billboard's charts would ultimately widen the parameters to reflect changes that are unfolding in music distribution," says Geoff Mayfield, Billboard's director of charts. "We would have preferred to make this decision earlier, but only became aware within the last 24 hours that Wal-Mart would be willing to share the data for this title with Nielsen SoundScan."

The revised policy initially impacts The Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums, where "Eden" will also bow at No. 1. Criteria for the remainder of Billboard's albums charts will be formulated later this week. A handful of other titles will debut this week on The Billboard 200 as a consequence of the policy revision.

Previously, titles that were not generally available at retail were not eligible to appear on The Billboard 200, but were entitled to chart on Billboard's Top Comprehensive Albums, which includes catalog titles and proprietary albums from retailers willing to report those sales.

The comprehensive chart will continue to appear on Billboard.biz, to show how catalog titles compete with the overall market. However, once parameters for the remainder of the album charts are determined, Top Comprehensive Music Videos will be discontinued, as exclusive titles will then be eligible for the Nielsen SoundScan-fed Top Music Videos.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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