Viewers welcome Al Jazeera America's debut the same way advertisers did


Move over, MSNBC, you’re no longer the sick man of cable television news. According to ratings reported August 27, Al Jazeera America now holds that dubious distinction.

MSNBC down badly…

Of course, in view of how badly MSNBC’s done compared to a year ago, that’s small consolation.

Some primetime shows, TVNewser reports, lost as much as half their audience.

Compared to August 2012, MSNBC was down -28% in total viewers and -32% in the A[dult]25-54 demographic in total day and -36% and -32%, respectively, in primetime…

“Morning Joe” was down -9% in total viewers and -17% in the A25-54 demographic compared to the same month last year, which actually was a better result than many of the programs that came later in the day.

In primetime, “The Rachel Maddow Show” posted all-time low ratings in total and demo[graphic] viewers, down -43% and -47%, respectively. “The Last Word” posted a low in total viewers, losing -40% of its total viewer audience and -42% of its demo audience. at 8 PM, “All in” was down -48% and -42% in total and demo viewers, respectively, placing behind CNN for the hour.In dayside, MSNBC was down double digits in pretty much every hour in total and demo viewers, including 6 PM’s “PoliticsNation,” which was down -31% and -37% in total and demo viewers, and 3 PM’s “The Cycle,” which was down -15% and -18% in total and demo viewers.

In all, only 520,000 viewers (173,000 aged 25 to 54) tuned to the network in primetime, 348,000 (119,000 25-54) the rest of the day.

But bad as those numbers are, they should make Al Jazeera America green with envy.

…but still way better than AJA

Al Jazeera America’s first-week ratings were even lower than those of the virtually unwatched Current TV that the Emirate of Qatar paid a cool half-billion dollars to buy from Al Gore.

Its top-rated show, the Thursday evening “Real Money with Ali Velshi,” drew a grand total of 54,000 viewers. That’s 10.3 percent of MSNBC’s anemic primetime viewership.

But it gets worse, as TVNewser reported. Some shows drew so few viewers that the Nielsen ratings couldn’t even count them accurately.

The 2 PM Saturday edition of “News Live” averaged 48,000 viewers, while “Inside Story” Thursday at 12:30 PM averaged 41,000 viewers. “News Live” Thursday from 12-12:30 averaged 40,000. The debut edition of “The Stream” on Tuesday averaged 38,000 viewers, below Nielsen’s accuracy threshold, while the debut of “America Tonight” averaged 34,000 viewers.

The launch hour, which was Tuesday afternoon at 3 PM, and featured a preview of what was to come on the channel, averaged 22,000 viewers, below Nielsen’s minimum accuracy threshold. In other words, Nielsen says it cannot accurately count how many people watched it, and the number it gives is essentially a rough guess. This is also called “scratching.”

We do not have the adults 25-54 numbers, but given the total viewer numbers, one can surmise that they scratched.

So regardless of their motivation, it looks like all those advertisers choosing not to buy commercial time on Al Jazeera America were making smart business decisions.

After all, the purpose of buying advertising time is to expose your sales message to consumers. And AJA certainly isn’t reaching many.

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