Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson Sexual Abuse Docu is Hit

HBO’s documentary Leaving Neverland appealed to many viewers over its two nights, with the first chapter drawing one of the biggest audiences in a decade.

The four-hour film, directed by Dan Reed, features two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck.  It details sexual abuse allegations against late music icon Michael Jackson.

The docu is the subject of a $100 million lawsuit against HBO filed by Jackson’s estate, claiming Leaving Neverland violates a non-disparagement clause in the contract for a 1992 Jackson concert film that aired on the pay cabler.

Part one of Leaving Neverland averaged 1.29 million viewers for its first airing on Sunday night, the third-largest audience for an HBO docu this decade behind Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (1.7 million) and Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (1.6 million).

Monday night’s conclusion brought in 927,000 viewers, giving the entire film an average of about 1.11 million viewers.

After the docu, the Oprah Winfrey-hosted special After Neverland, featuring interviews with Reed, Robson and Safechuck and an audience of sexual-abuse survivors and their families, drew 780,000 viewers on HBO; it was simulcast on OWN.