As earlier reported, Ed Sheeran's new ÷ (Divide) album is heading for a smashing debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart -- and the largest bow of 2017, according to industry prognosticators.
The title seems to be very likely heading for a bow of more than 400,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending March 9 -- with a chance of hitting a whopping 450,000 units. Of that sum, perhaps 300,000 could be comprised of traditional album sales.
On March 3, the album's release day, initial first-week forecasts for the set ranged from 300,000 to 425,000 units.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). Sheeran's first week performance, and ÷'s debut rank on the Billboard 200, are not scheduled to be announced until March 12, after Nielsen Music has completed the processing of its tracking data for the week ending March 9.
The last album to start with more than 400,000 units in a week was J. Cole's 4 Your Eyez Only, which launched at No. 1 on the chart dated Dec. 31, 2016, with 492,000 units earned, according to Nielsen Music. That album was also the last title to sell more than 300,000 copies in a week, as it debuted with 363,000 sold.