NewFronts: Weather Channel Fall Originals to Rain Across All Screens

Will bow short-form digital series on TV, online, smartphone and tablet platforms

The Weather Co., flexing multiplatform muscles, will bow three short-form original digital series this fall, playing across cable TV, online, smartphones and tablets.

Three mini-skeins, released under Weather Films banner, are: “I Am Unstoppable” (working title, premieres October), profiling six athletes who overcome physical disabilities; “Virus Hunters” (November), a docu about killer-virus outbreaks; and “Alive” (December), first-person accounts of people who survived life-threatening weather events.

Execs previewed the new originals Monday at the Digital Content NewFronts event in New York. Essentially, presentation was a digital-focused update of Weather Co.’s Upfront in early April.

“We have an investment in content like we’ve never had before at this company,” said Curt Hecht, Weather Co. chief global revenue officer.

Each series will feature six 2-to-4-minute episodes, with all six episodes of a series launching online on the same date. On TV, current plan is to air segs as interstitials between live programming on Weather Channel.

New skeins join three others cabler announced at the April 3 upfront, although these will be online-only: “Brink” (launches July), which follows eco-heroes fighting to save embattled species; travelogue “Destination Uncharted” (formerly “The Bucket List,” August); and “Grid Breakers (formerly “The Explorers,” September), which profiles extreme explorers who have endured harsh weather conditions.

“We’ve got killer content, and we are building what we think are killer multiplatform experiences,” said Neil Katz, Weather Co. veep and editor-in-chief of Weather.com.

Guests at event included Sarah Reinertsen (pictured, above), one of the athletes in “I Am Unstoppable,” who is the first full-leg amputee to complete the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii.

About 25% of users of Weather Co. properties say their first and last digital experiences every day are with its weather apps or Weather.com, according to Mike Finnerty, Web product veep: “We’re more important to them than Google, Yahoo, AOL and other brands,” he said.

All told, Weather.com has 100 million unique visitors per month and is adding 100,000 new users every day. Weather Channel also reaches 100 million households, while company’s mobile apps have been downloaded more than 100 million times.

For Internet video, company has 22 million unique viewers per month and streamed more than 1 billion minutes of video over the last month. At the event, Finnerty announced The Home Depot as first sponsor for Weather Co.’s video-clip distribution partnership with Twitter for promoted tweets. Retailer will extend “Project of the Week” campaign to social media platform.

On mobile, Finnerty called out Weather Co. campaign for Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful,” which featured the film in wallpaper backgrounds on millions of mobile apps ahead of itw premiere.

Company also pitched ad buyers on WeatherFX, a service that triggers marketing opportunities based on weather conditions (e.g., Chicago residents drink more beer during summer when temps are below average for three straight days).

Execs boasted that since January, Weather.com has had 100% delivery on every content campaign for marketing clients.

The Weather Co. is jointly owned by NBCUniversal and private-equity firms Blackstone Group and Bain Capital.

Sesh kicked off with recent clip from “SNL,” another NBCU property: sketch of “Stormy Skies” soap opera spoof featuring faux Weather Channel personalities embroiled in steamy love triangles.

With Gotham’s rainy weather Monday, Weather Co. event organizers arranged at the last minute for buses to bring NewFronts attendees from earlier Wall Street Journal event to its presentation at The Times Center. Company also handed out Weather Channel umbrellas.

Katz noted that Monday was the six-month anniversary of landfall by Superstorm Sandy, which devastated portions of New Jersey and New York seaboard and was a major multiscreen event for Weather Co.

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