Al Jazeera America said today that it would be shutting down at the end of April, having failed to attract a sizable audience to its attempt at a smarter US news network, according to The New York Times. It was a surprise announcement, but it follows a series of very public struggles for the young network. It launched slowly in 2013, only ever making it into about 60 percent of US homes with cable TV, according to Politico. That certainly didn't help its viewership, which the Times reports struggled to top 30,000 viewers a night. Beyond issues finding an audience, Al Jazeera America has also dealt with major departures from top staff, public reports of a disorganized and unhappy newsroom, and a lawsuit from a former employee alleging anti-Semitic and sexist treatment.
The CEO of Al Jazeera America reportedly says its business model is "not sustainable" due to "economic challenges in the US media marketplace." But while the network is being shut down, Al Jazeera isn't abandoning the US market entirely. It's shifting resources over to its digital operations — likely AJ+, its property focused on younger viewers / aka millennials who get all their news from Facebook and YouTube.