Al Jazeera America Launches With Few Sponsors, National Advertisers Shun Network

All together now...awwwww!

Al Jazeera America is set to launch Tuesday, and its doing so with few sponsors.

A report in Monday's New York Post described  the controversial new cable channel as having a huge budget with a global network of over 1,000 "journalists" and a bold ambition of competing with CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

There's only one problem: not many companies are interested in placing ads with them.

According to the Post, AJA will go live Tuesday with only six minutes of ad time per hour - less than half of what's typical for a cable news network - but most of those will be in-house promos and local ad spots.

Apparently, national advertisers are shunning the network. U.S. companies just don't seem interested in sponsoring a network perceived by most to be anti-American.

“I wouldn’t give them a dime, especially since we are in New York,” one advertiser who asked not to be named told the Post.

“They’re owned by an Arab country and they ran the [Osama] bin Laden tapes. I just wouldn’t trust them,” he said.

A major ad agency buyer who was pitched on the channel told the Post, “Not touching that one.”

AJA's website is similarly being shunned. Although still in a beta test mode, there still are no ads at the site. Not one.

Another problem for AJA is that it will initially air in only about 50 million homes. As it won't be carried by Time Warner Cable or Cablevision, roughly half the homes with cable won't receive it.

“It’s hard to sell it to an American buyer,” one ad agency buyer told the Post. “There’s so much backlash. I’d never advise anyone to buy it.”

Will this network ever get enough sponsors to be successful?

Stay tuned. 

That said, former Vice President Al Gore, who sold Current TV to Al Jazeera for $500 million thereby giving it a foothold into American cable, must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Al Jazeera
Noel Sheppard's picture

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