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Al Jazeera for a fee

The newsroom at Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha

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Scott Jagow: Until recently, if you wanted to watch the TV network Al Jazeera in English in the U.S., your best bet was to move to Vermont or Ohio. A couple of small cable companies were offering it. But Al Jazeera has started broadcasting from its website. The only thing is, you have to pay to watch. Jeremy Hobson reports.


Jeremy Hobson: Al Jazeera English does offer a free stream on its website, but it's still managed to sign up some 20,000 U.S. subscribers to its fee-based online service. They pay about $6 a month to watch the channel live with a better picture.

When it comes to Internet TV there are two ways to make money: ads and fees. Fees are tougher but it's a good business model for Al Jazeera, says Josh Bernoff with Forrester Research.

Josh Bernoff: It's a niche audience, but more than that it's a niche audience that is very interested in the content.

It's similar, Bernoff says, to the success of foreign language broadcasters who offer streaming video online.

A niche audience just wasn't there for CNN's online video service called Pipeline. The fees on pipeline went away last week to make room for ads.

Al Jazeera hopes it fares differently, and that success online will prove to cable operators that the channel is worth carrying.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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