Al Jazerra English, which is the version that was being broadcast for free until it went off the air last week, was carrying features that American cable networks were not carrying, and their on site coverage of coups was second to none. Anyone who desires to watch such programming will watch it on Al Jazerra America if it continues to be covered and presented the same way. A person who samples Al Jazerra America is not going to switch back to Nancy Grace just because her show has better quality cameras or studio mikes.
CNN dropped Headline News half hour reports back around 2006 because it was drawing about 200,000 viewers. It immediately doubled that with its tabloid shows, and can triple or quadruple that any time an attractive young white female is wronged. Anyone who might want to learn of the weather forecast within the next half hour can access it immediately through other means. Similarly, ESPN and CNN dropped their 11:00 PM sports shows long ago because the viewers who wanted that information could get it earlier than 11:00 PM, and Nightline only dragged on as long as it did because of Ted Koppel and because ABC then clung to that half hour as long and hard as it could, but Nightline really became a superfluous and inconvenient place for news junkies to see important issues discussed at length when those same issues had already been expounded upon dispassionately by the PBS New Hour and then politicized by the cable news prime time shows.
In my opinion, Al Jazerra shouldn't be looking for someone more famous than Soledad OBrien. It should be looking for someone less famous. But that is why I am installing satellite reception antennas for a living instead of making television network hiring decisions. The people I'd hire would be ratings busts. Russia Today has given Larry King his old prime time interview slot back, and the interviews of his that I've seen had no news or Russian angle to them. They were just whatever Russia Today determined would draw the largest audience. I remember when the History Channel ran Dirty Harry. It must have been part of an anthology series on the American cinema's portrayal of "blowing away punk". I think they showed WWF or WWE fake wrestling a few months after that. I hope Al Jazerra America holds true to its mission of showing world news from a non-USA perspective, but at least in the short run, it has to first secure its place in cable "Basic" and "Expanded Basic" tiers, which it can most effectively do by looking and sounding like all the other successful channels. Unfortunately, once they have accomplished that, I don't think they will ever be able to go back.
Edited by AntAltMike, 29 August 2013 - 02:46 PM.