Al-Jazeera English has rolled out apps for audiences on mobile devices running the Google Android (s GOOG) and BlackBerry (s RIMM) operating systems. That means viewers will be able to tune in to live coverage from the news agency, even as the news network is still negotiating for carriage on major cable systems.
The apps, announced Monday, will expand the possible outlets for users interested in following reporting from the Middle Eastern news agency. In addition to a live video stream that’s available for viewing, users will also be able to access text-based news reporting, opinion and features from the agency. The apps are also designed to make it easy for users to share stories through social networks.
Due to political uprisings in Egypt and other nations in the Middle East, Al-Jazeera English has garnered increased interest from viewers of late. While Western news organizations scrambled to cover the events, Al-Jazeera had an on-the-ground view of the civilian unrest. Since then, people have continued to tune in, despite the fact that Al-Jazeera is not available through most major cable systems in the U.S. Instead, viewers have turned to watching its coverage online and through a number of other platforms.
Because it is affiliated with Livestation, viewers were able to tune into its live stream on Roku players, the iPhone(s aapl), Google TV devices and even the Sony PlayStation 3 (s SNE) through third-party applications. (See our piece on 12 Ways to Watch Al-Jazeera English.)
For Al-Jazeera English, going direct to the consumer is probably a smart strategy, particularly since the network has had difficulty locking down deals with major cable providers. Despite ongoing negotiations, the network has yet to announce a carriage deal with Comcast, (s CMCSA) Time Warner Cable (s TWC) or other major TV distributors.