Ahead Of Memorial, Public Sentiment Favors The King Of Pop

Ahead Of Memorial, Public Sentiment Favors The King Of Pop

Prior to his sudden death 10 days ago, Michael Jackson’s value as a buzzable star had been relatively dim.  Although he was about to embark on a series of 50 concerts in London later this month, the conversation about Jackson was limited to his fans.  But now, Jackson is once again the King… of internet buzz.  Conversations around Jackson and his death dominated the web, dwarfing other recent buzz surrounding the Obama inauguration, the swine flu scare, other celebrity passings, the iPhone, and the Iranian election. (click image to enlarge)

While the chatter leveled off during the July 4 weekend, it is expected to bubble up again surrounding his public memorial on Tuesday, July 7.

“There wasn’t much discussion online about Michael Jackson – other than by his diehard fans – a year before, and even a day before, he died,” said Jon Gibs, Vice President, Media and Agency Insights at Nielsen Online. “Then, immediately after his death, everyone on the ‘Net was talking about him — at unprecedented volumes.”

Beyond The Buzz

Analysis of online conversations by Nielsen Online shows that most sentiment about him before his death was neutral, with almost a quarter being negative.  Post-death, 47 percent of the online conversations were positive, as fans past and present discussed his legacy and record-breaking hits like “Thriller,” “Beat It,” and “Billie Jean.”

Post Death Sentiment

June 25-29

Pre-Death Sentiment

June 1-30, 2008

On the day before his death, Jackson warranted one mention on TV among the major networks in New York City (a single mention on “The View”), generating just 282,000 household viewing impressions.  As events unfolded, household viewing impressions skyrocketed to almost 200 million. (see graphic)

While some may believe that media coverage of Jackson’s death and the upcoming public memorial service has been overdone, his fans – past and present – have used his passing as a way to celebrate the music he made in a career that spanned more than three decades.  Even in death, his music is breaking records: eight of the top 10 positions on Billboard’s Top Pop Catalog Albums chart last week were occupied by Jackson, with another belonging to the Jackson 5.  Jackson’s solo albums sold 415,000 copies last week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, up from approximately 10,000 the week prior to his death.

For complete chart and sales history, visit’s Michael Jackson site.