Summary:

Did you watch the unrest in Egypt unfold via Al-Jazeera’s English-language live feed? You’re not alone: The Qatar-based news network has seen its traffic syrocket – and it now intends to use some of this momentum to finally gain a foothold in the U.S. cable market.

al jazeera boy

Al-Jazeera’s live video coverage of the civil unrest in Egypt is drawing big crowds online: The Qatar-based TV network saw its web traffic increase 2,500 percent when it reported about the violent clashes between demonstrators and police on Friday.

The network is streaming its entire English-language TV feed online, and this live stream has been even more popular than the site itself, according to Al-Jazeera. It clocked some 26 million minutes of live video streaming within twelve hours Friday night. More than 50 percent of that traffic has been coming from the U.S.

Al-Jazeera’s distribution partners are also seeing a huge influx of new visitors trying to get new information about the situation in Egypt. UK-based live streaming startup Livestation.com has been struggling to keep its servers up and running, and now said it has seen 800 percent more hits than usual. “We’ve hit just about every server limit there is,” the company said late Sunday. It also published the following graph to show how much its traffic has increased ever since the uprising in Tunisia, followed by an even bigger spike when the movement swapped over to Egypt:

Al-Jazeera owes much of its current success to the fact that it has more teams on the ground in Egypt than any other news network. It has continued to broadcast up-to-the-minute coverage, despite the fact that its office has been shut down by Egyptian authorities and that some of its journalists have been temporarily detained.

However, as I already explained here Friday, that it even has a 24/7 live feed online has a lot to do with the big U.S. cable networks having so far refused to carry Al-Jazeera English. The network believes its current success will go a long way toward “putting more pressure on U.S. cable platforms in particular to air the channel,” as it said in a press release sent out this weekend. Al-Jazeera English Head of Online Mohamed Nanabhay took another stab at U.S. cable companies by tweeting that their very customers are the ones that also frequent the Al-Jazeera stream the most:

So far, there’s little sign this strategy is working. Asked by a customer when Comcast will start to carry Al-Jazeera English, its Twitter customer rep was decidedly non-committal:

Still, Al-Jazeera did win another distribution partner for its programming this weekend: The network’s English-language feed is now also available via Dailymotion, thanks to a partnership between Livestation and the French video hoster.

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