Michael Jackson has lost about a third of his listeners over the past decade, according to a new poll — but it's not for the reason you might think

Tony Barson/WireImageMichael Jackson at the 2006 World Music Awards.
  • Michael Jackson’s legacy has been under heigthened scrutiny since the release of HBO’s “Leaving Neverland.”
  • The two-part documentary focuses on the accounts of two men who say Jackson sexually abused them when they were boys in the ’80s and ’90s. Jackson, who died in 2009, denied molesting children during his life and was acquitted of unrelated child-molestation charges in 2005.
  • A new INSIDER poll indicates that Jackson has lost about one-third of his regular listeners over the past decade – but only 10% of people in that group cited the accusations as a reason why.
  • Far more respondents described his music as old or outdated, simply believing that Jackson’s relevance in the musical landscape has declined.
  • About 35% of those polled said they listen to about the same amount of Jackson’s music as they did 10 years ago.

Michael Jackson’s legacy has been the subject of increaed public debate since the release of HBO’s harrowing documentary “Leaving Neverland” earlier this month.

The four-hour, two-part documentary focuses on two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Jackson sexually abused them when they were boys in the ’80s and ’90s. (Jackson denied molesting children during his life and was acquitted of unrelated child-molestation charges in 2005.)


Read more:
7 jaw-dropping moments from ‘Leaving Neverland,’ the explosive documentary that lodges sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson

INSIDER recently conducted a survey to examine the effect of “Leaving Neverland” on Jackson’s fans, polling 1,024 American adults through SurveyMonkey.

While regular listeners of Jackson’s music appear to be diminishing, the abuse allegations may not be to blame

Leaving neverlandHBOMichael Jackson with Wade Robson and his family in 1990.

About a third of those polled (33%) reported listening to less of Jackson’s music than they did 10 years ago, around the time Jackson died of an overdose.

Only 10%of the people in that group, however, cited the allegations as a reason why.

Far more respondents credited their decreased listening to changing music trends. Many described his music as old or outdated, simply believing that Jackson’s relevance in the musical landscape has declined.

About 35% of those polled said they listen to the same amount of Jackson’s music as they did 10 years ago. Another 6% said they listen to more of his music, while about 26% said they have never actively been a fan – and a small portion (7%) of the respondents in the latter group mentioned the alleged abuse.

In the documentary’s wake, many public figures and institutions have distanced themselves from the “Thriller” singer

Radio stations from around the globe have banned Jackson’s music following the release of “Finding Neverland.” Museums, designer fashion brands, and even sports teams have removed Jackson references andmemorabilia from collections and displays.

And the showrunners of “The Simpsons” have decided to pull an iconic Jackson-voiced episode from circulation.

“It feels clearly the only choice to make,” the show’s longtime executive producer, James L. Brooks, said of the decision.

SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,082 respondents collected March 10, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.12 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

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