The crisis in Gaza has provided a ratings boost for Al Jazeera America.
Over the past two weeks, Al Jazeera America has seen its ratings grow by 30% compared with the previous four weeks. Its prime-time audience has jumped 40%.
Al Jazeera America, launched last August, has struggled to establish itself. While it has gotten critical acclaim for its journalism and recently won a Peabody Award, that has not translated into big ratings.
To be sure, Al Jazeera America still has a tiny audience compared with Fox News and CNN. Funded by the government of Qatar, Al Jazeera America has recently reduced staff. Earlier this month reporters and producers were told to exercise restraint when it comes to live shots that require costly satellite time.
When it launched, Al Jazeera America said its focus was to cover the United States and it opened bureaus throughout the country. That its best numbers and greatest response from viewers is for coverage of an international crisis may give credence to those who thought the channel would be better off if it focused its efforts on news from abroad rather than here.
Asked whether the ratings growth for its coverage of Gaza would lead the channel rethink its mission, a spokeswoman said, “I think it shows that there is appetite for in-depth coverage when there is breaking news anywhere.”
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