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Here Are the (Really Bad) Ratings for Al Jazeera America's First Week on Air


Some of the shows had so few viewers, Nielsen could not accurately calculate how many people actually watched.

Image source: Al Jazeera

Nielsen has issued its audience size ratings for first few days Al Jazeera America was on the air, and the news for the network is not good.

The highest rated show on the network which launched last week was Thursday’s edition of “Real Money with Ali Velshi,” which drew 54,000 total viewers, according to TV Newser.

“AJAM’s launch ratings were pretty low by traditional cable news standards,” writes TV Newser, a website run by Mediabistro.com that’s followed by many in the television news industry.

Here are some of the other shows surveyed by Nielsen, per TV Newser:

The 2 PM Saturday edition of “News Live” averaged 48,000 viewers, while “Inside Story” Thursday at 12:30 PM averaged 41,000 viewers. “News Live” Thursday from 12-12:30 averaged 40,000. The debut edition of “The Stream” on Tuesday averaged 38,000 viewers, below Nielsen’s accuracy threshold, while the debut of “America Tonight” averaged 34,000 viewers.

Some of the shows had so few viewers, Nielsen could not accurately calculate how many people actually watched.

For example, its first hour on the air was last Tuesday at 3 p.m., an hour that averaged only 22,000 viewers. TV Newser explains that this is below Nielsen’s minimum accuracy threshold.

“In other words, Nielsen says it cannot accurately count how many people watched it, and the number it gives is essentially a rough guess. This is also called ‘scratching,’” TV Newser writes.

As for viewers aged 25-54, known as the advertiser desirable “demo,” TV Newser did not get those numbers, but writes “given the total viewer numbers, one can surmise that they scratched.”

For comparison, Mediaite offered the total viewer ratings of some of the other cable news channels from last Tuesday through Friday. “Fox averaged 1.574 million viewers, MSNBC average 509,000 and CNN averaged 450,000,” writes Mediaite.

The night before Al Jazeera American launched last week, AT&T announced it would not broadcast the network on its U-verse service due to a contractual dispute, which could partially explain the low viewership figures. The ratings could also be explained in part by the network taking over the slot previously occupied by the low-rated Current TV. Al Jazeera America says it is suing AT&T for refusing to carry the network.

“With distribution in less than half the households that its cable news competitors enjoy, Al Jazeera America has a long way to go in the television ratings game,” Mediaite writes.


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