After two months on the air, Al Jazeera America’s (AJA) ratings are so low, Nielsen lists them as “scratch” and doesn’t even bother to report them. With an average of only 13,000 viewers, AJA is drawing far fewer viewers than the failed channel it replaced, Al Gore’s Current TV, which average 31,000.
In the all-important 25-54 demo, AJA attracts only 5,000 viewers.
AJA is backed by the oil-rich Qatar government, which paid a half-billion dollars to acquire Current TV. On top of that, the daily operating costs have to be astronomical. It would make sense for the Qatar government to accept this loss, even with low ratings, if AJA was making any kind of impact in the American news media. But that is the channel’s real failure. Not a single thing AJA has done has thus far penetrated into the mainstream media or the national political conversation: not a single scoop, interview, YouTube moment, or controversy.
Granted, AJA is still in the cradle and history proves that it takes time to pick up an audience and cement a brand. But I have been working in media for almost a decade, and have never seen a failure to launch as spectacular as this one (not counting ObamaCare).
There are plenty of examples (on the left and right) of financial backers willing to take a loss if they believe The Cause is being advanced. But AJA is advancing nothing. It is the proverbial tree falling in a forest with no one there to hear it.
In fact, if you merely compare AJA’s ratings to the millions of Muslims living in America, viewership is a statistical zero.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC