Al Jazeera America launch proves big turn off

New TV network set up by Qatari broadcaster attracts biggest audience of just 54,000
Al Jazeera America launch proves big turn off
By Andy Sambidge
Thu 29 Aug 2013 02:04 PM

Al Jazeera's new American TV network attracted poor audience figures for its first full week, according to Variety magazine.

Citing data from Nielsen, the entertainment mag said Al Jazeera America's most popular primetime show, America Tonight, attracted 27,000 viewers.

In comparison, Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor drew 2.97 million, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow bagged 970,000, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper attracted 627,000.

The Real Money with Ali Velshi show, which only drew 54,000 viewers, was the new network’s highest rated show last week, according to US media reports.

Al Jazeera America’s launch hour — August 20 at 3pm — averaged 22,000 viewers, below Nielsen’s minimum accuracy threshold.

This means that the number is essentially an estimate, as Nielsen couldn’t accurately count the viewers, Variety reported.

By comparison, Al Jazeera America’s main Twitter handle has more followers than its highest-rated show last week, having accumulated over 75,000 followers, it added.

The 24-hour network, which is available to about half of the country’s 100m cable TV subscribers, was setup in the wake of Al Jazeera’s $500m acquisition of Current TV, the current affair channel founded by former vice president Al Gore.

In preparation for the launch, Al Jazeera America put together a team of 900 employees and is operating out of 12 bureaus across the US. The broadcaster has also appointed ABC executive Kate O’Brian as its president and former CNN anchor Ali Velshi.

It will initially be available to about 49m households, although some experts believe that it will struggle to capture anywhere near this amount. Current TV was dropped by carrier Time Warner Cable just hours after its sale to Al Jazeera was announced.

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.