Storms Are In, Reality Shows Out As Weather Channel Gets Back to Basics

Leaders of the Weather Channel are looking forward to seeing storm clouds on the horizon.

The Atlanta-based cable channel is vowing to return to basics of programming focused on weather reports and meteorological sciences now that the digital half of its parent Weather Company is to be acquired by IBM in a deal estimated at $2 billion. Weather Channel also plans to launch a customized streaming service designed to be bundled into channel packages from OTT providers such as Sling TV.

The cable channel will continue to be owned by the partnership of NBCUniversal, with a 25% stake, and investment banks Bain Capital and Blackstone, which acquired Weather Co. in 2008 for $3.5 billion.

Weather Channel CEO Dave Shull acknowledged that the channel erred during the past few years in veering some of its focus away from the skies in favor of a slate of personality- and entertainment-driven programs. At a time of turbulence for MVPDs, Weather Channel needs to stick to its knitting to remain a must-have channel in any bundle.

Weather Channel has faced some high-profile carriage standoffs as it sought higher fees in carriage renewal talks. MVPDs were quick to use the channel’s decision to veer away from weather coverage at times as rationale for dropping the channel.

“We’re recognizing that in a world of skinny bundles and a la carte, the unique, strong and precise value proposition that makes us essential is all about the weather and the science of the weather,” Shull told Variety.

Reality shows such as “Fat Guys in the Woods” and “Prospectors” will be phased out. Weather forecasts, storm coverage, beach reports and the like will comprise the bulk of programming.

“Our mission remains to deliver the best storm coverage in the world,” Shull said.

The OTT service will be designed to offer round-the-clock loop of localized weather updates to viewers in easily digestible short bites. Shull sees it as a way of offering live TV in an on-demand world.

“The cord-cutting audience does not want to watch a traditional 30-minute news product,” Shull said. “They want a five-minute report on news, weather and traffic.”

With the separation of Weather Co.’s digital assets, including its heavily trafficked Weather Channel app, the TV side of the company will be able to focus all of its energy on programming and production. The massive weather forecasting operation is going along with the IBM acquisition, with Weather Channel cutting a long-term license deal to use that weather data.

The cable channel, launched in 1982, will have about 400 employees after the separation from the digital and data units. Shull said there are no plans for downsizing the TV staff, and in fact they will likely be beefing up in some areas to prepare for the OTT product launch.

“We’re pretty pumped about the chance to really focus on the TV business,” he said.

More TV

  • Sebastian Maniscalco

    Sebastian Maniscalco to Host MTV VMAs

    MTV has announced that comedian, actor and best-selling author Sebastian Maniscalco will host the 2019 “VMAs” live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, Aug. 26. Last year, Maniscalco published his best selling book “Stay Hungry,” followed by a stand up tour of the same name. The comedian has also sold out [...]

  • T-Pain, Faheem Rashad Najm. T-Pain performs

    TV News Roundup: 'T-Pain's School of Business' Sets August Premiere

    In today’s roundup, “T-Pain’s School of Business” sets an August 6 premiere on Fuse, and OWN greenlights a new talks series. EXECUTIVE NEWS Matt Brodlie is leaving his role as director of original film at Netflix to join the Disney+ content marketing team as senior vice president of international content development. In his new role, [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs For Screens: Labrinth on Scoring HBO’s Drake-Produced Drama 'Euphoria'

    British singer-songwriter Labrinth (née Timothy Lee McKenzie) has been having one of the biggest years of his nearly decade-long career, from the April release of his collaborative album with L.S.D. (a.k.a. Labrinth Sia & Diplo) to his starring role in the latest campaign for MINI, where he reinterprets Cole Porter’s cowboy classic “Don’t Fence Me [...]

  • The Office

    'The Office' to Stream Exclusively on NBCUniversal Service Beginning in 2021

    NBCUniversal announced Tuesday that it will begin streaming “The Office” exclusively on its standalone streaming service beginning in 2021. The popular comedy series will leave Netflix once the current deal with NBCU expires at the end of 2020, the same year that NBCU plans to launch its ad-supported streaming service. All nine seasons of the [...]

  • 'Lincoln Lawyer' Series in Development at

    'Lincoln Lawyer' Series in Development at CBS from David E. Kelley

    David E. Kelley is returning once more to the court of legal dramas. CBS has issued a series production commitment for “The Lincoln Lawyer,” with Kelley in position to pen and executive produce. Based on the series of bestselling novels by Michael Connelly, the show hails from A+E Studios in association with CBS TV Studios. [...]

  • Patrick Somerville'Maniac' TV Show premiere, London,

    'Maniac' Creator to Helm 'Made for Love,' 'Station Eleven' for WarnerMedia

    “Maniac” creator Patrick Somerville has signed on to helm two new series, “Made for Love” and “Station Eleven,” for WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service. “Made for Love,” which will be executive produced and directed by S.J. Clarkson, is a 10-episode, straight-to-series adaptation based on the novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting. The half-hour comedy [...]

  • Naomi Watts and Gretchen Carlson'The Loudest

    ‘The Loudest Voice’ Stars Naomi Watts, Russell Crowe Talk Roger Ailes

    Roger Ailes may have been the force behind the creation of Fox News, but the late newsman’s legacy will forever be his atrocious sexual harassment of several of the network’s female anchors and producers. Showtime premiered its new limited series “The Loudest Voice,” which chronicles Ailes’ rise and fall, on Monday night at the Paris [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content