After a rocky and low rated run of two and a half years, Al Jazeera America is closing down on April 30. The “decision by Al Jazeera America’s board is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace,” said the news net’s CEO Al Anstey in a memo to staff today.
A source close to events says that the top tier people at AJAM have seen the writing on the wall since late last year when key execs fled amidst lawsuits and allegations of discrimination. Probably didn’t help that AJAM ended 2015 with a tiny tiny adults 25-43 demo primetime viewership of 7,000. While going off air in the spring, Anstey’s memo says AJAM plans to grow online to “bring new global content into America.” Staff were told today in a general meeting that they will be paid and receive benefits until the end of April.
Never a real player in the cable news universe Stateside, AJAM was born out of the $500 million purchase by its government of Qatar owners of the Al Gore created Current TV in January 2013. Despite early battles with the likes of Time Warner Cable and AT&T over carriage, AJAM debuted on August 20, 2013 in around 30 million U.S. homes. With the exception of stories like recent allegations that Denver Broncos QT Peyton Manning secretly used performance-enhancing drugs, AJAM never gained any traction – except for legal battles with the former VP, scandals, staff cuts and high profile exits.