Janet Jackson Documentary Scores Huge Ratings for Lifetime and A&E

Janet Jackson Documentary (Credit: Lifetime)

That’s the way love goes… with Janet Jackson fans showing up en masse for the Lifetime and A&E documentary about the superstar singer’s life.

The two-night, four-hour documentary officially titled Janet Jackson. aired on Jan. 28 and Jan. 29. Ratings data released Tuesday shows the doc reached more than 15 million viewers — with 12.2 million people watching on the sister cable networks and another 3.7 million video views on their digital platforms.

The doc was the #1 program on cable both Friday and Saturday in primetime in the adults age 25-54 demo. Breaking down the numbers, the premiere averaged 3.1 million viewers on Lifetime and A&E. Those numbers marked Lifetime’s best non-fiction performance since Surviving R. Kelly in January 2019, the network said in a press release.

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Here’s a breakdown of viewers for each of the four hours across the two networks, according to Nielsen data obtained by TheWrap.
Hour 1: 2.8 million viewers
Hour 2: 3.2 million viewers
Hour 3: 3.0 million viewers
Hour 4: 3.2 million viewers

Janet Jackson. delivered new information about the pop star’s past relationships, her estrangement from late brother Michael Jackson, and the fallout from her “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl.

During the four-hour film, the notoriously private star addressed decades-old rumors of a “secret baby,” and insisted there was no baby. “How could I keep a child away from their father? I could never do that. That’s not right,” she said.

On the second night, she discussed the backlash from her 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show performance with Justin Timberlake. She denied the infamous moment was intentional, and said: “Honestly, this whole thing was blown way out of proportion.”

The doc also confirmed the “Control” singer was “disinvited” from the Grammy Awards that year amid the controversy.

Her then-boyfriend Jermaine Dupri served on the board for the Grammys and said he quit over its handling of the matter. “I felt like they were disrespectful to Janet, and I resigned at that point,” he said in the doc.

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Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson (Credit: Lifetime/Jackson Family)
Janet and Michael Jackson (Credit: Lifetime/Jackson Family)

Asked why he and Janet broke up after years of dating, Dupri admitted he was “reckless.”

“One of the weird things is that dating Janet attracts other women — girls wanted to talk to me more because I was dating her… and I’m a man,” he confessed.

While fans were hooked, some critics said the authorized film — which Janet produced with her brother Randy Jackson — glossed over parts of her life.

Variety reviewer Daniel D’Addario wrote: “Jackson can’t help seeming scripted when she drops truisms about her parents like ‘discipline without love is tyranny, and tyrants they were not.’”

The Washington Post TV Critic Inkoo Kang watched the first two hours of the film and described it as “feather-light on revelations.”  Kang wrote: “That first half is an authorized autobiography in the worst way: empty, glossy, bloated and wholly indifferent to what other people might find interesting about its subject.”

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans agreed, writing: “This documentary needed an outside voice strong enough to push her to go deeper — revealing more than we can read in a Wikipedia entry or see in gossip columns.”

Lifetime will rebroadcast all four hours of Janet Jackson. on Friday, Feb. 4 beginning at 8pm ET/PT. The documentary is also available on VOD, the Lifetime and A&E Apps and on mylifetime.com and aetv.com.