Al Jazeera made huge headway in the U.S. television market yesterday when it announced its purchase of Current TV.
The exact purchasing price wasn't revealed; however, The New York Times puts the buying price near $500 million.
Though Al Jazeera has been making a push to enter more American homes for some time, did they invest millions of dollars in the right network or will no one show up to watch?
On one end of the spectrum, Al Jazeera has the chance to turn around a network plagued by low ratings into something huge. On the other hand, it could face the same fate as struggling new networks (OWN anyone?).
Let's weigh the pros and cons.
Sure, some people tune in to watch. The first two weeks of October the network averaged about 35,000 viewers.
Then there's getting past the "The Al Jazeera Effect"
As author Philip Seib of "The Al Jazeera Effect," pointed out to the NYT, there are people out there who will instantly hear "Al Jazeera" network and dismiss it as having affiliations with 9/11.
“There are still people who will not watch it, who will say that it’s a ‘terrorist network,’ ” said Seib.“Al Jazeera has to override that by providing quality news.”
But, it's not all bad news.
While the ratings may be dwindling, it doesn't change the fact that the network is available in approximately 60 million U.S. homes and 71 million in total worldwide.
(In Al Jazeera's announcement, it said the network would be available in more than 40 million homes.)
That number may be a bit smaller now considering Time Warner Cable announced hours after the Al Jazeera purchase it would no longer carry the network because the company didn't consent to the sale.
TWC accounted for approximately 12 million of Current TV's viewership.
As we mentioned, the company's had its eye set on dropping the network for some time. Reuters reported in April TWC threatened to remove Current from its lineup if it didn't hit a certain ratings mark.
Any worry of continued dwindling ratings may fade with a new audience and demographic.
With the purchase of Current, Al Jazeera's plan is rebuild – and rebrand – the channel from the ground up as Al Jazeera America.
The Qatar-funded news network will drive the English-language channel with newscasts from both New York and Doha, Qatar and plans to have a 300 U.S.-based staff in new bureaus across the country.
Tony Burman, Al Jazeera English's managing director, told HuffPost in 2011 he believes the cold shoulder was a result of cable companies' fear of losing subscribers.
In its statement, Al Jazeera was confident there's demand for its content in the U.S.
"U.S. viewers have clearly demonstrated that they like the way Al Jazeera provides compelling, in-depth news to audiences across the world," said Al Jazeera's director general, Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani. "Everyone at Al Jazeera takes great pride in the independence, impartiality, professionalism and courage of our journalism. I look forward to bringing these standards to our new American audiences and working with our new colleagues at Current."
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