With 535,000 subscribers and nearly a half-billion views, Al Jazeera‘s English language YouTube channel has developed a web presence to match the news network’s broadcast success. It was a go-to source for Arab Spring coverage in 2011, and it led international coverage of the US Presidential election in 2012. This year, it has failed to reach American audiences, as cable contracts have made its videos unavailable on our side of the pond–until now, that is. A new Al Jareeza channel will soon launch and will provide a dedicated online home separate from the network’s US cable channel.
Al Jazeera restricted access to its YouTube channel after it bought Current TV earlier this year and announced the launch of Al Jazeera America, a new cable channel. Al Jazeera America has its own YouTube channel, but content is sparse, and while Al Jareeza’s English channel has in the past week made a few videos available on American shores, the bulk of its content is still geoblocked.
Relief will come in the form of a new channel tentatively titled Al-Jazeera Plus, which will present the network’s news in a format geared toward the Internet crowd. “The Al Jazeera YouTube channel will be a dedicated online video concept that will bring the Al Jazeera editorial vision to a younger generation of people whose habits of consuming news and media are changing,” says a job posting referred to by GigaOM.
It’s unclear how exactly AJ+ will accomplish this goal, but considering the network decided to release The Young Turks, we can assume the focus will be direct news coverage without much spin or editorial. Even in this basic form, the return of Al Jazeera will be a welcome development for YouTube viewers who crave its worldly viewpoint.