HBO’s new four-hour documentary Leaving Neverland outlines the years of alleged sexual abuse by the late pop icon Michael Jackson. The documentary was premiered in a pair of two-hour segments. Following the documentary and the shocking details described, Michael Jackson’s sales, streaming, and radio airplay have declined in the U.S. according to reports by Nielsen Music and Billboard.
Shortly after the documentary aired, Jackson’s total combined album and song sales dropped 4% according to Billboard. That number includes both his solo work as well as Jackson 5 and The Jacksons’s sales.
Michael Jackson’s album sales alone dropped a significant amount. Before the first part of Leaving Neverland was released, his album sales for that week were at 2,000. The following week, his album sales dipped to just above 1,000. That marks a 39% decrease in sales after the documentary aired. The radio airplay Michael Jackson received dropped 13% after the documentary across all U.S. satellite radio stations. His song streaming numbers fell as well. The number of streams Micheal Jackson’s music had dropped 18% in just two days following the documentary.
And to be clear, this isn’t just an aberration on sales numbers: the numbers dropped right after the documentary hit airwaves.
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 not clear whether the dip in sales and airplay will be permanent, or if they will increase again with time.