Blog Post

In the wake of Al Jazeera, The Young Turks declares its Current independence

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

This week, news broke that Al Jazeera had acquired Current TV, the left-leaning cable news network founded by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt that’s seemed to change its mission statement once every two years or so.

Plans for the soon-to-be-rebranded Al Jazeera America include a fresh slate of content which may not have room for previously-existing Current programming — but you know who doesn’t seem that worried about it? One of Current’s biggest personalities.

Cenk Uygur, of the nightly live series The Young Turks, came to Current after his relationship with MSNBC went south last year; since then, the opinionated host has become one of Current’s most-watched anchors.

But that’s not why Uygur seems extremely confident about his show’s potentially uncertain fate. See, The Young Turks was born initially as a radio series in 2002, then expanded to YouTube (s GOOG) in December 2005. Currently, TYT has nearly 500,000 YouTube subscribers and over 900,000,000 views on its primary channel. Or, as Uygur puts it on Twitter:

These stats refer to The Young Turks‘s YouTube channel, not the Current series of the same name, which will continue for at least the next three months before the conclusion of the Al Jazeera takeover.

However, there’s been some confusion about the difference between TYT the YouTube channel and TYT the live Current show. This lead to questions about whether or not The Young Turks had been sold to Al Jazeera along with Current — questions which Uygur addressed in a video released on Thursday, frankly entitled “TYT Is Independent, Not Owned by Current or Al Jazeera.”

In the video, Uygur refers to the connection between the two iterations of the TYT brand as “a mutually beneficial relationship and we hope to continue that.” He then showed off a little bit of Arabic.

According to the New York Times, the Al Jazeera acquisition does mean that layoffs are coming for at least some Current staffers. But Uygur will still have a platform for getting his voice out — and more importantly, an audience.

25 Responses to “In the wake of Al Jazeera, The Young Turks declares its Current independence”

  1. Michael Curley

    Psy made 1.3 million on his billion hits, TYT will not be able to generate the revenue to be relevant. Furthermore saying TYT are one of currents most popular shows is a joke, considering no one watches Current and its ratings were a joke. The reason they were able to command such a large saleprice is soley becasue of their access to cable markets, nothing to do with strong ratings.

  2. 30aTV @30abuzz

    maybe if they werent left of the world they could get more traction. Climate change is mans fault and big business is suppressing you stories and discussion sure gets old fast

  3. Laurence Glavin

    Since Al Jazeera IS a foreign-owned entity, I believe Al Jazeera CAN’T buy, own and operate a full-power TV station in the US. But it may be possible to enter into an agreement with a TV station operator to broadcast some, most or all of it content. I’ve read that KCET-TV in Los Angeles carries some Al Jazeera programming for example. The US has an actual LAW that requires cable TV providers to offer over-the-air stations receivable in their area, so that’s one way Al Jazeera could be seen in many places whether Cox, Time-Warner or Comcast likes it or not. And it would be cheaper than buying a cable channel that could be dropped without consequence.

  4. Fritz Brothers

    Bad move politically for Gore. I will follow these guys wherever they go. Great show, keep up the good work. The people need someone to carry the word.

  5. Ann Glover

    Cool. Al Jazeera is not an Islamist controlled news media. It is quite even. Just because it has a Mid Eastern name means nothing. You, the average U.S. citizen, should check it out.

  6. I was not even aware Young Turks was available on “tv” since I only see it on YouTube.

    That said, I look forward o the Al Jazeera influence given the paucity of real world news available via the main TV networks here in the U.S.

  7. Cesar Duran

    Current TV was never able to find an identity. I remember I discovered it in high school, when it still had the old “pod” format, and it was all about alternative cultures, independent lifestyles, and viewer submitted content. I miss all of those old shows, like Viral Video Film School, InfoMania, Max and Jason: Still Up, and SuperNews. Then, Current tried to focus more on pop culture with movie and video game reviews, then they rebranded as a news channel, and now this.

  8. I will follow TYT if they are on Current or anywhere else…Cenk tells the truth, unlike the bought and sold corporate owned media outlets who spew propaganda and lies daily or tell us stories of puppy dogs and dolphins instead of REAL news

  9. TYT is its own thing which just happens to do shows on Current. Personally I haven’t really cared about Current TV in years because it long ago changed from it originally set out to be. I miss the old Current TV where viewers made the stories. That was real citizen journalism. Sure it was rough but that was kind of its charm. Later they went for slick semi-professionally produced stuff and shuffled the members into the dark. For a while they threw us a bone by posting our comments on the TV but that stopped and the member interaction section of the site got pushed into the background.

  10. It’s tough to match TYT’s numbers to others. On one hand, they have the live stream. Does that count towards a youtube hit if I watch the live stream from TYT’s site? Sometimes I miss the Live event or just want to watch the individual 2 min clips. If I watch 15 new clips based on the most recent show, that’s 15 Youtube hits. But If I watch the entire live show, is that just 1 hit?

  11. Current was pallid amateurish crap compared to the professionalism of the News World International, the Canada-based independent news channel that Gore bought and folded to produce Current.

    Poisonally, I’m looking forward to AlJazeera joining their sports channel, BEIN, on DirecTV.

  12. quiviran

    I think Al Jazeera will have a hard time getting their content out over cable or satellite, even more than Current did. Too much risk of American consumer backlash against the perception of Al Jazeera, deserved or not. The cable/ satellite companies just won’t risk it.

    That said, Current will be missed. I like Elliott Spitzer and Jennifer Granholm. Cenk too, for that matter. It is always a tossup between Spitzer, Granholm, Maddow and O’Donnell. Lucky for rebroadcasts.

    • Kaarli Makela

      I will continue, with interest, to follow ALL the parties involved going forward….our favorite voices will be heard in some manner…..Stephanie Miller cannot be stopped! 3:) !!

  13. Anonymous

    There are hundreds of channels on cable services that can boast the same “viewership” numbers simply because they are available. However, the number of “actual viewers” is far far lower.

    Look at the hit counts on their YouTube channel. Stories get 10k or 50k hits. Really popular stories get 100k hits. But I’m sure people claim they have MILLIONS of YouTube viewers!

    • I think you are confuse about the viewers or views thing. They have 15.5 unique viewers in a month. Some might watch 1 video and some will jump from video to video. But they are unique. TYT don’t control this information. I’m sure YouTube provides these numbers. I watch them daily and is the only place where you get analysis with facts, opinions and predictions, that for some reason are always right, because that are not tainted with partisanship.

      • The problem is that Cenk is using the 15.5 million unique viewers as if it’s the size of his audience. TYT has 13.7k videos on Youtube ranging from a multitude of topics. Billions of people have access to Youtube, so it’s not surprising that 15.5 million people watched at least one Young Turks video in a month. He really should provide his average views per video to better gauge the size of his committed audience. Right now the Young Turks average 66,903 views per video.

  14. I remember the 1st time al jazeera tried to make in roads in America maybe 7 years ago and it didn’t go well. I doubt buying a small tv brand no one’s heard of will make a difference. They should have just focused more on monetizing and expanding their online site since there’s a lot of good content on their website.

    I remember reading a report that analyze the demographics of cable news watchers and it was determine that most are old and white so it’s going to be very hard for them go gain an audience with a name such as al jazeera.