Al Jazeera America isn't an isolated phenomenon. Another government-sponsored media outlet that has ventured into U.S. broadcasting is China's CCTV America, launched last year.
"The Chinese have about a similar coverage of the U.S. media market as Al Jazeera does right now," Bibb said. "They are using a soft diplomacy and no one is saying it's a propaganda outlet. Their approach is very thoughtful, but it's all China and that's what people are hungry for."
Bibb wondered why Al Jazeera America would plan to produce 60% of its content in the United States, as it has said, when Al Jazeera has increasingly become renowned for its coverage of the Middle East, especially during the recent Arab Spring revolutions.
Politics aside, Al Jazeera America will find American audiences to be tough customers. The Arab royal-family-owned network will be entering a tumultuous, fragmented marketplace for news programming where the top-ranked cable news shows garner ratings only in the hundreds of thousands at any one time, not millions, analysts said.
Furthermore, access to 60 million homes doesn't guarantee that many people will be watching the program, analysts said.
International newscasts in particular can also be a hard sell, experts said.
"A lot will depend on how much appetite there is in the American market for international news. A lot of these organizations have cut back on that," Kurtz said.
Carriers "are getting hate mail from some viewers who don't want to see it on their cable lineup," the New York TImes' Stelter said about Al Jazeera. "But money can change a lot of these problems and they have a lot of it."