The Weather Channel, operating under financial pressure, will lay off approximately 50 employees and pull back star Sam Champion from morning duties as it seeks to hone in on weather coverage and pull back from some of the other programming that had begun to fill its airwaves.
“Viewers turn to The Weather Channel and our experts for the most locally relevant and precise forecast, and for the best live coverage of severe weather events available anywhere on television,” the company said in a prepared statement. “In a fragmented world where it’s no longer about scale but about a passionate core following, we recognize the need to be hyper-focused on providing our viewers exactly what they come to us for – weather.”
The moves were reported previously by CNNMoney.
As part of the restructuring, the network has canceled Al Roker’s “Wake Up With Al” early-morning program, and is moving Sam Champion to develop and lead expanded weather coverage during primetime. In Champion’s new role, he will “create editorial content and host on-screen segments as we launch our new “Local Now” product for OTT providers. His deep understanding of local television will be crucial in helping us build our network of local content with the major broadcast station groups,” the network said. The Roker program’s last episode will air October 2.
The maneuvers take place as Weather Channel has encountered a story climate of its own. More of its viewers are able to get weather news from digital sources – some of them offered by Weather Channel’s parent, Weather Company. With that in mind, the network is placing more effort behind content that attracts its core customer, and is likely to drop some of the emphasis it has recently developed on reality programming and documentary series.
Weather Channel employs approximately 1400 people.