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Summary:

Al Jazeera English has long been a refuge for U.S.-based TV viewers who want to watch their news programming online, thanks to live streams on a number of different platforms. However, the yet-to-be-launched Al Jazeera America cable network won’t be available live online.

al jazeera america feature art

Cord cutters won’t be able to tune into Al Jazeera America, the new cable news network that was announced Wednesday in conjunction with the news that Al Jazeera has purchased Al Gore’s Current.tv. At least not live, anyway: An Al Jazeera America spokesperson confirmed Thursday that the network won’t be live streaming its programming online.

This news will likely come as a disappointment to Internet-savvy news junkies, and it’s a departure from Al Jazeera’s current distribution model. Shunned by big cable service providers, Al Jazeera has long streamed its English-language programming live through sites like YouTube as well as dedicated apps for mobile and connected devices.

However, through the acquisition of Current.tv, Al Jazeera is gaining cable distribution to some 40 million households through service providers like Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, Verizon FIOS and AT&T Uverse. Only Time Warner Cable decided to ditch the channel, something that was possible through an exit clause in the event of an ownership change.

And with new carriers, there are new responsibilities. Cable TV providers don’t like to compete with free online distribution, and instead want content to be made available only to authenticated subscribers. It’s too early to tell whether Al Jazeera America will go down that route, but it’s certainly a possibility, as Peter Kafka mused today.

Still, there is good news for cord cutters: Al Jazeera will continue to operate its Al Jazeera English channel as a separate entity to target English-language audiences around the world. And Al Jazeera English will continue to stream online, at least for the time being. Plus, with Al Jazeera staffing up in the U.S., it’s likely that there is going to be more coverage of U.S. news events on Al Jazeera English as well.

Now, there may be some uncertainty during the transition period. Current.tv is supposed to wind down its own programming over the next three months. At that point, it is going to be replaced by an Al Jazeera English feed until Al Jazeera America is fully operational and ready to launch in a few months. A spokesperson couldn’t rule out that during that transition, the Al Jazeera English live stream could become unavailable to U.S. audiences.

But even without a dedicated Al Jazeera America live stream, there is hope that the network is going to offer online audiences more than competitors like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC have been willing to do. In the past few years, Al Jazeera English has embraced a wide range of online tools and platforms, ranging from crowdsourced video subtitles to Reddit chats to social media in crisis hotspots. it’s unlikely that the network is going to ditch these efforts once it launches in the U.S. in honest later this year.

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  1. Give it time =0)

    With the increase of mobile devices and mobile users/subscriptions.. they may want to change their stance, if not now, soon. They probably know this.. Al Jazeera has had to think outside of the box in order to gain Western/American viewers and they have gotten this far with the odds against them. In today’s super capable world, not having access via the internet would be a shame, especially if it not as available as all of these other news sources. We need more diversity with regards to our media, less corporate owned media would be nice.

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  2. Shame on you Directv!!!!!!! you keep going up on your prices now this!!!!!! Thinking about going back to cable!!!!!!!

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    1. Edmund Singleton Friday, January 4, 2013

      If you go back to cable it will only be your lost. The world needs more points of view…

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      1. I don’t have any choice where I live in the NE which is heavily populated and you’d think there would be other options. We have one cable/broadband/internet provider. One. If you drop cable, you can’t subscribe to the Internet service. There is no other ISP in our area either. It’s been this way for over 20 years.

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  3. Gabriel Chapman Thursday, January 3, 2013

    If there is a network in the US that could get even less market share than the awful lineup from Current it would be Al Jazeera. Odd that manbearpig decided that glenn beck wasn’t good enough to buy his network due to his political leanings and the desire of current to keep with its lefty image moving forward. Does this mean that middle east propaganda and “progressive” American TV are one in the same?

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  4. That seems a bit premature because – correctly me if I’m wrong – making money has always been less important for Al Jazeera than getting viewers and I doubt AJ – which has invested heavily in mobile and alternative platforms – will simply abandon their existing viewers because they don’t have cable.

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  5. Edmund Singleton Friday, January 4, 2013

    I can only hope for no on-screen logo and no news crawl, please…

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  6. Thanks for the update but this doesn’t really sound that bad. How different can “Al Jazeera English” and “Al Jazeera America” really be? Plus as you know cord cutters don’t lack for news content. ROKU offers all kinds of news channels for free.

    http://cordcutterguide.com/

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  7. It’s horrible how much cable providers can control a network. This is the only country in the developed world where cable providers think they’re being cheated if you live stream your programming. It was even too much trouble for CNN to live stream and require a username and password.. It took them a long time.

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  8. Robert Pearson Sunday, January 6, 2013

    No need for a terrorist news network

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  9. John Stewart Pinnow Wednesday, January 9, 2013

    If they go with subscription model please please don’t use flipping silverlight, like some of the cable channels do.

    And what of us non-cord cutters. Making it harder for people who do ‘pay’ for cable.
    I have been enjoying Al Jazzeera english watching it no problem on my linux machine. I don’t need to deal with stupid codecs to watch stuff.

    It really fries my cookies, that I can’t watch online cable content that I do subscribe because they want to use some brain damaged non-multi-platform codec to play it. Use html5 and make all platforms happy.

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  10. John Stewart Pinnow Wednesday, January 9, 2013

    Yea, no need for a terrorist network …. LIKE FOX (FAUX) News. It is sad that foreign television is more honest. Al jazeera at least reports news. Instead of hours of ‘Opinion’. FOX is scared, the population might actually be informed lol.

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