Al Jazeera Ratings Low Enough to Be Considered a ‘Scratch’ by Nielsen

Qatar-backed network's audience similar to a public access channel's

Al Jazeera America / AP

Al Jazeera America's ratings are so bad, they are considered a "scratch" and do not get reported by Nielsen, the New York Post reports.

Indeed, after less than three months on the air, the offshoot of the Middle East news network is not even garnering half the viewers of its Al Gore-owned predecessor, Current TV. It's managing an average of just 13,000 viewers per day since its Aug. 20 launch, numbers more akin to a public access channel than a premium cable outlet:

In the 25- to 54-year-old audience sought by advertisers, it drew 5,000 viewers.

The ratings are so low, they are considered a "scratch" and aren’t reported by Nielsen.

"We are making large investments in programming and marketing," an Al Jazeera America spokesperson said Sunday.

By comparison, 31,000 viewers tuned into Current TV a year ago.

Currently, Al Jazeera America is carried in about 44 million US households. The network lost millions of households when Time Warner Cable dropped it shortly after its debut.

The No. 2 cable provider has agreed to make Al Jazeera America available in about 10 million homes. Despite that, the news channel is the smallest of fry. Last Thursday, Even with Time Warner Cable on board, Al Jazeera America has a long way to go in its mission to compete with mainstream rivals. Leader Fox News drew 353,000 total viewers, while CNN notched 174,000 and MSNBC grabbed 121,000.

The network is backed by the government of oil-rich Qatar, which paid $500 million in January to purchase Current TV and attain U.S. distribution. Gore, a champion of climate-change causes, made a reported $70 million in the deal.