At least that’s what the New York Post reported November 17.
When Al Jazeera America made its debut August 20, it displaced MSNBC from the cable news ratings cellar. While 348,000 adults per day watched MSNBC’s prime-time lineup, we reported, AJA’s most watched show, “Real Money with Ali Velshi,” drew a grand total of just 54,000.
Of course, AJA had some excuses. For one thing, it was straight out of the box, and viewers hadn’t yet had time to get used to it.
And with Time-Warner’s cable system not carrying it (They’d previously dropped its predecessor, Al Gore’s Current TV.), it was reaching only about half of America’s cable homes.
But now, says the Post, “The No. 2 cable provider has agreed to make Al Jazeera America available in about 10 million homes.”
And AJA’s fortunes have turned.
For the worse.
The good old days
Now, reaching 10 million more homes and with two months on air to build up audience, AJA’s current viewership makes its debut week seem like the good old days.
How low is it? Let’s put things in perspective.
Fox News, by way of comparison, draws 353,000 viewers a day.
CNN gets 174,000.
Even MSNBC attracts 121,000.
Al Jazeera America gets 13,000. In the 25- to 54-year-old demographic that advertisers seek, the network gets 5,000.
How low is low?
To give you an idea of how low that is, 13,000 is less than half the 31,000 viewers that Current TV drew over the same distribution system.
It’s 0.03 percent of the 44 million cable homes its signal goes to.
And a whopping 0.004 percent of the US population (317,091,437), as estimated by the Census Bureau’s population clock.
Its 25-54 audience, notes Audrey Hudson at NewsMax, is “better, but not much better, than public access programming, which attracts about 5,000 viewers a day in the key 25-54-year-old demographic.”
In fact, says Hudson, “the U.S. ratings of the Middle Eastern-based news agency are so low, Nielsen doesn’t consider it important enough to report.” Actually, it’s not a matter of importance, but of size – or lack of it.
One Nielsen ratings point is equal to 1 percent of the category being measured. On that scale, 13,000 viewers a day – a little over 500 an hour, on the average – wouldn’t even amount to a rounding error.
But fear not. “We are making large investments in programming and marketing,” an Al Jazeera America spokesperson said yesterday. And if there’s one thing the government of Qatar, which forked over a half-billion dollars for the distribution network of Gore’s failing Current TV, has lots of, it’s money.
Money, however, doesn’t necessarily buy audience.
One thing keeping American viewers away in droves, says the Post, is “a deep distrust in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and criticism that [Al Jazeera America] harbors an anti-US bias.”
Who’d have ever guessed?
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