Al Jazeera America.
You may think, what challenges? Isn’t the TV marketplace in a decided upswing? Shouldn’t most cable TV networks, with a decent level of U.S subscribers, find a way to at least break even because of a better advertising market?
Apparently not. Not with Al Jazeera America pulling only 30,000 TV viewers in prime time. By way of comparison, Fox News Channel, averages 2 million viewers in prime time; CNN, 600,000; and MSNBC, 500,000.
Al Jazeera America did garner some prestigious journalism awards. Maybe streaming live on a digital platform, there would have been better financial options.
No doubt, Al Jazeera America had other issues to contend with. Al Gore, co-owner of Current TV, who sold the network to Al Jazeera, sued for payments still owed him and his partner. Another lawsuit from an Al Jazeera employee came with claims of sexism and anti-Semitism. And then its chief executive resigned after complaints that the network had a “culture of fear” attitude.
To be fair, few media companies work as pristine operations -- especially newbies. Still, Al Jazeera America had nearly 50 million U.S. pay TV subscribers - which, while not exactly competing with other established cable networks touting 80 to 90 million subscribers, was a decent subscriber base.
While TV news operations can be costly affair, they aren’t on the order of, say, what Netflix spends when to comes to $3 billion a year in TV production costs.
With traditional TV still holding sway with TV advertisers -- especially in a TV world that holds live programming in high regard, commanding premium ad dollars over non-live TV content -- Al Jazeera should have been able to make a better go of it.
So you can ask yourself the next question: Will Viceland, now taking over A+E Network’s H2 channel, do better in the TV news category, hopefully catering to a relatively new audience, underserved millennials?
Viceland is inheriting 70 million U.S. subscribers -- a bigger piece of valuable cable TV real estate. That means, for better or worse, there’ll be more quizzes to come.