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Michael Jackson’s Streams & Sales Increase, Airplay Declines, After ‘Leaving Neverland’ Broadcast: Update

HBO's new documentary Leaving Neverland, which chronicles allegations of sexual abuse by Michael Jackson, led to a dip in airplay, but a bump in streams and sales, for his catalog of music in the…

Update (March 10): An earlier version of this story stated, based on initial sales reports to Nielsen Music, that Jackson’s combined album and song sales declined following the Leaving Neverland premiere. Now, with complete sales data fully reported in to Nielsen Music for the week ending March 7, Jackson’s sales increased after the Neverland premiere. We have updated the story below with the new information.

In addition, an earlier version of this story said that Jackson’s streams declined after Neverland’s bow. His streams increased. We have corrected the error below.

HBO’s new documentary Leaving Neverland, which chronicles allegations of sexual abuse by Michael Jackson, led to a dip in airplay, but a bump in streams and sales, for his catalog of music in the U.S., according 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 5 and The Jacksons — increased 10 percent in the shadow of the Neverland premiere. His combined sales on March 3-5 totaled nearly 9,000, up from the little over 8,000 on the previous Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 24-26).

Breaking that down further, looking at just album sales, his total gained by 9 percent in that span (rising to a little more than 2,000, up from a bit under 2,000). His song sales increased by 10 percent (rising to nearly 7,000 up from 6,000).


In terms of on-demand audio and video streams, Jackson’s tunes saw an increase of 6 percent, rising to 19.7 million on March 3-5, up 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.