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Michael Jackson Music Sales Rise, Despite Harrowing Documentary

While some radio stations dropped or cut back on playing Michael Jackson’s music after HBO’s documentary Leaving Neverland gave detailed accounts of alleged sexual abuse by the singer, sales and streams actually showed increases.

Combined song and album sales were up 10% after the two-part series, according to data from Nielsen Music. Those sales included both his work with the Jackson 5 and as a solo artist.

Streaming services saw an increase in interest as well, with 19.7 million video and audio streams between March 3 and March 5, a 6% increase from the similar period the prior week.

Radio stations, however, are pulling back, with Jackson’s songs being played 13% less during the March 3-March 5 period, with the biggest decline coming on March 5, the day after the final part of the four-hour film aired.

The increase in sales and streams has surprised some, especially since initial reports indicated both of those metrics were trending downward after the Leaving Neverland premiere. The documentary, which has prompted a lawsuit from Jackson’s estate, has resurfaced sex crime allegations that dogged the singer while he was alive and caused many entertainment companies to rethink their publicity of the artist. Producers on The Simpsons, for example, announced plans to pull an episode featuring Jackson from all outlets.