The ratings are in for the first week of Al Jazeera America, and they were abysmally low, by traditional cable-news standards.
Former CNN host Ali Velshi had the top-rated show with just 54,000 viewers. But most of the other shows managed to attract only between 30 and 40 thousand viewers, which puts the network on par with what Current TV reported last year.
Al Jazeera America is undeterred by the slow start, and told TheWrap that the results are “consistent with Al Jazeera America’s growth-oriented strategy, including beginning our marketing campaign at launch,” and that they expect the audience to build:
It was especially gratifying to see the very large number of people—particularly in New York—who used the channel-finder feature on our website. This is the best indication that, as we fully anticipated, demand for Al Jazeera America is strong and our audience will continue to grow steadily in the weeks and months ahead.
After all, the ratings couldn’t possibly get worse, right?
Al Jazeera America has had a rough start in other ways as well, with AT&T’s U-Verse system dropping the channel just before its launch, costing it about 3-million homes—not that any of them would have watched the channel—and a lack of advertisers.
During the hour that I watched Al Jazeera America there were a total of three ads—Neat Receipts, The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and Pro Activ. That’s just three minutes of ads, compared to the normal 15-17 minutes the other cable news channels average per hour, and even less than the six minutes that was predicted before the launch. This means that their revenues are minuscule by cable-news standards.
But none of this seems to matter to the deep-pocketed Qatari government, which shelled out $500 million to buy Current TV so they could get their pro-terrorism views onto American television, disguised as news.