Al Jazeera America is going dark tonight after a two and half short years on the air. The network was no longer sustainable as the Qatar based Al Jazeera network announced that the American channel would shut down after failing to attract viewers. Tonight the network will air a three hour special showcasing the video reporting that very few people bothered to watch.
Al Jazeera America was stuffed into American’s cable subscription thanks to former Vice President Al Gore. In 2005 Gore founded Current TV, a user generated video channel that eventually turned into a full time liberal media outlet. In 2012, Gore put the channel up for sale as it became clear that younger people no longer watched cable TV. Cord cutting and the desire to get sustainable employment contributed to the demise of progressive media. The appetite for millennials to spend over $100 for hundreds of cable channels they would never watch killed Gore’s channel. Al Gore made millions by offloading the failing channel to Al Jazeera America. The network paid around half a billion dollars for a ready made channel that was being broadcast to 40 million homes.
Al Jazeera America pitched itself as a serious cable TV news network. They promoted hard hitting investigative reporting and hoped to tap into an audience of young progressive Americans. Like Al Gore, they failed to see that the progressive audience only wanted free media and were not willing to pay for cable. Al Jazeera America tried to compete with Fox News, the highest viewed cable news network. Fox consistently received over 200,000 viewers compared with Al Jazeera America’s 20,000 viewers. Some nights, the network saw less than 17,000 viewers. Many of these viewers may have unknowingly been on the wrong channel.
Al Jazeera America is owned by Qatar based Al Jazeera, the main media network of the Islamic world.
As the failed cable news channel shutters, hundreds of reporters, news staff, and media operations personnel will be forced to find new jobs elsewhere. For most Americans, few will notice or care as Al Jazeera America disappears from their channel guides.
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