It’s official: Justin Timberlake’s new album “The 20/20 Experience” debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 968,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
“20/20,” released on March 19, is Timberlake’s second No. 1 album and logs his best sales week yet. It follows his last release, 2006’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” which arrived atop the list with his previous high: 684,000. Timberlake’s first album, 2002’s “Justified,” debuted and peaked at No. 2 with a 439,000 start.
“20/20’s” monster sales are the 19th-largest week for an album since SoundScan started tracking data in 1991. The all-time best-selling week was when Timberlake’s former group, ‘N Sync, saw its “No Strings Attached” album debut with 2.42 million at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart dated April 8, 2000.
The full top 10 of the new Billboard 200 — along with further sales analysis about “20/20’s” arrival — will be revealed on Wednesday, March 27.
All Eyes on Justin
Timberlake’s bow with “20/20” is biggest overall sales frame since Taylor Swift’s “Red” debuted with 1.2 million on the Nov. 10, 2012-dated chart. Among male artists, Timberlake has the largest week in nearly five years. The last larger by a man was when Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” debuted with 1.01 million on June 28, 2008.
Interestingly, “20/20” also tallies the third-biggest week for a solo male singer (aka: non-rapper). Only Usher and Garth Brooks have scored larger frames. Their “Confessions” (2004) and “Double Live” (1998) sets debuted with 1.10 million and 1.09 million, respectively.
Sources say Apple’s iTunes Store was the top seller of “20/20” for the week, as overall digital sales, with Target its No. 2 account. The latter was the only retailer with an exclusive version of the album: It includes two bonus songs unavailable anywhere else: “Dress On” and “Body Count.” Target has been heavily promoting the album via a series of TV commercials, the first of which premiered during CBS’ broadcast of the Grammy Awards on Feb. 10. For its part, iTunes had an exclusive stream of “20/20” that premiered on March 11 — more than a week before the album dropped on March 19.
During “20/20’s” debut week, the lowest advertised price for the album at a national retailer was $7 — both Walmart and Amazon.com were selling the physical CD for that price. Target promoted its exclusive version for $9.99. iTunes and its main competitor, Amazon MP3, sold the standard digital album for $10.99.
In the lead-up to the release of the album, Timberlake hosted and performed on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” (March 9) and had a week-long residency on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” (March 11-15). He also starred in his own TV concert special, “Target Presents: The iHeartRadio Album Release Party,” which aired twice on the CW during release week: March 19 and 22. The show was first streamed live on the Web via the iHeartRadio service on March 18.