Al Jazeera America has seen a major boost in its ratings over the last two weeks, with the network’s coverage of the Gaza conflict drawing some 3 million unique viewers in the first two weeks, 1.4 million of them in prime time, according to the Baltimore Sun. The hike represents a 30 percent increase in the network’s overall audience and a 40 percent increase in its prime-time audience.
It’s a major triumph for the year-old network, which has struggled to gain traction with American audiences since its much-ballyhooed debut last August. As of April of this year, the network had only been drawing an average of 15,000 viewers in prime time, 5,000 of which were in the target 25-54 demo, according to The Wrap. Such low numbers led inevitably to layoffs, and in April the network cut between 60 and 100 of its employees.
Journalism professor and author of The Al Jazeera Effect told the Baltimore Sun: “When Al Jazeera America first debuted and was getting very weak ratings, my sense was that they needed a story they could own, that people would have to come to them for.” With correspondents throughout Gaza and Jerusalem, and coverage of protests across the world, the network seems to have finally proved itself a major contender in the American TV news space.