The Weather Channel
|The Weather Channel|
|Launched||May 2, 1982|
|Broadcast area||United States, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and The Bahamas|
|Headquarters||Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.|
|Dish Network||214 (HD/SD)|
|Available on most U.S. cable systems||Consult local cable provider or program listings source for channel availability|
|Frndly TV||Internet Protocol television|
The Weather Channel (TWC) is an American pay television channel owned by the Weather Group, LLC, a subsidiary of Entertainment Studios. The channel's headquarters are in Atlanta, Georgia. Launched on May 2, 1982, the channel broadcasts weather forecasts and weather-related news and analysis, along with documentaries and entertainment programming related to weather. A sister network, Weatherscan, is a digital cable and satellite service that offers 24-hour automated local forecasts and radar imagery.
The Weather Channel's former parent company, the Weather Company (part of IBM since 2016), also provides forecasts for terrestrial and satellite radio stations, newspapers, mobile apps and websites, including an extensive online presence at weather.com. The Weather Channel continues to license its brand assets and weather data from IBM.
The Weather Channel was founded on July 18, 1980, by television meteorologist John Coleman (who, at the time of the channel's founding, had formerly served as a chief meteorologist at ABC owned-and-operated station WLS-TV in Chicago and as a forecaster for Good Morning America) and Frank Batten, then-president of the channel's original owner Landmark Communications (now Landmark Media Enterprises). The channel launched at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on May 2, 1982. Originally, regional and local information was obtained by the National Weather Service for broadcast. Since 2002, all forecasting has been done on-site in Atlanta.
The Weather Channel uses special proprietary equipment that inserts information on current and future local weather conditions, and weather alerts issued by the National Weather Service and the Storm Prediction Center and National Hurricane Center, if it is viewed on a cable television provider. The original WeatherStar technology has been upgraded on larger cable systems to the IntelliStar, which incorporates "Vocal Local" to announce current conditions, weather bulletins and detailed local forecasts. Subscribers of satellite, IPTV and some smaller cable providers originally saw only a roundup of local TWC-sourced forecasts for major cities across the U.S., as well as national and regional satellite and radar images, and severe weather watch and warning maps when active. However, satellite customers with newer systems or interactive TV receivers have the choice of "roundups" or localized forecasts. For both cable and satellite viewers, popular music (formerly smooth jazz) plays in the background during these segments. Some older WeatherStar units were still in use by small cable companies that couldn't afford to upgrade to the IntelliStar. The WeatherStar units are also able to overlay text-based local contact information over the national feed during certain business advertisements aired on the channel.
The Weather Channel operates a service based on modified versions of the WeatherStar technology called Weatherscan, a separate non-network TV channel which constantly displays local and regional conditions and forecasts, and on some cable systems, advertisements.
The Weather Channel also runs websites in Latin America (Canal de Tiempo), Brazil (Canal do Tempo), the United Kingdom (Weather Channel), France (Météo 123) and Germany (Wetter 123). TWC only runs its U.S. channel, although it does produce international forecasts. The Weather Channel also has Weather stations in national universities of the USA (MIT, University of California), UK (University of Oxford, Lancaster University) and Global Meteo Station at the North Pole and International Space Station.
A definitive history of the network, The Weather Channel: The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon, by Jeffrey L. Cruikshank and network co-founder Frank Batten, was published by Harvard Business Press in May 2002, in honor of TWC's 20th anniversary.
Sale to NBCUniversal, Bain, and Blackstone
On January 3, 2008, Landmark Communications put the Weather Channel and its assets up for sale. On July 6, 2008, NBC Universal, Bain Capital and Blackstone Group agreed to jointly purchase the Weather Channel from Landmark, making it the channel's first ownership change in 26 years. The sale was finalized on September 12, 2008. NBC Universal also owned NBC Weather Plus, a rival service which was carried by and featured content from the NBC television network's local network affiliates; that service announced its discontinuation three months later. Over-the-air digital subchannels carrying Weather Plus have since switched to the similarly formatted The Local AccuWeather Channel, kept the Weather Plus engine, or switched affiliations to other networks such as This TV or the Retro Television Network; some have shut down entirely.
From November 2008 to February 2009, the Weather Channel laid off seven long-time on-camera meteorologists: Kristina Abernathy, Eboni Deon, Kristin Dodd, Rich Johnson, Cheryl Lemke, Mark Mancuso and Dave Schwartz (Schwartz would return to TWC in April 2014, but died of cancer on July 30, 2016). With the exception of Deon, all had been on the air for more than ten years, and three of them had been employed by the network for more than twenty years. In July 2010, the Weather Channel terminated Bill Keneely, the last of the original on-camera meteorologists who appeared on the network's first broadcasts in 1982. In December of that year, the network also laid off on-camera meteorologist Nicole Mitchell, who later would file a lawsuit against the Weather Channel in 2012, alleging that she had been terminated because the channel's new owners disapproved of the time required by her simultaneous duties as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force Reserve as one of the "Hurricane Hunters" team; such reserve duties are protected by U.S. law (Mitchell later served as the chief meteorologist at Al Jazeera America, which for a time also employed Eboni Deon).
Inevitably, the merger of NBC on-air meteorologists began in May 2009. Former NBC Weather Plus meteorologist Todd Santos joined the Weather Channel on May 2 of that year. Al Roker of NBC's Today began hosting a one-hour morning program called Wake Up With Al, alongside meteorologist Stephanie Abrams later in the summer. However, for New York City-based forecasting operations (those utilized for forecasts on MSNBC and CNBC, for instance), the former NBC Weather Plus forecasting, radar and graphics systems remain in place, with banners changed to fit the Weather Channel's graphics scheme. On September 10, 2009, the Weather Channel co-founder Frank Batten died.
In January 2012, David Kenny took over as chief executive officer of the Weather Channel, replacing former AOL executive Mike Kelly, who had been appointed as the company's CEO in the summer of 2009. Although all operations, sales support and marketing and the bulk of employees are located in the headquarters in Atlanta, Kenny declined to move there, and continues to live and work from his home in Boston, visiting Atlanta once or twice per quarter. This is counter to general company policy which discourages telecommuting for the majority of employees. Later in 2012, the Weather Channel's holding company changed its name from The Weather Channel Companies to The Weather Company. The company also purchased competing weather service and website Weather Underground the same year. On March 10, 2015, Verizon FiOS dropped the Weather Channel and WeatherScan for their rival AccuWeather.
On September 9, 2015, the channel announced a phased overhaul of its programming schedule during 2016, in which the channel would gradually shift its focus back towards a forecast-based lineup; the channel cancelled Wake Up with Al (citing high production costs as it was produced in New York city rather than Atlanta) and announced that AMHQ would be reformatted as a weather-focused program (eliminating lifestyle segments), with Stephanie Abrams taking over as host while original host Sam Champion would become a contributor for its prime time schedule starting November 2. The network also announced it would no longer greenlight original long-form programming, and expand live forecast programming on its schedule throughout 2016 once all remaining long-form programs already in development conclude their runs. In a memo sent out to network staff by Weather Company CEO David Kenny, it cited the refocusing towards weather-based programs was done on the basis that "our most passionate fans come to us for the weather and the science behind the weather, not our original shows." Around 50 TWC employees – including production, engineering, and financial staff – were laid off, and the television channel's budget was reduced to focus investments on the company's Internet and mobile properties.
The channel's original format was akin to that of a news and information cable network. Since the creation of the series Atmospheres in 2000 and Storm Stories in 2003, the Weather Channel had seen a gradual transition toward a mix of weather forecast programming and weather-related entertainment programming that paralleled the launch of sister network Weatherscan, the evolution of the always-on "L" bar/weather ticker, the development of weather.com and popular branded mobile phone applications, and the increased viewing and interest in documentary programs on the topic of weather. In November 2013, the channel introduced a new initiative of "weather all the time" in response to the criticism; all original programming – which was rebranded under the tagline Natural Drama – now had direct relevance to weather-related subjects, and the network reemphasized its promise to interrupt original programming either regionally or nationally during major weather events; in addition, the Weather Channel extended the display of its lower display line (which also experienced a design revamp as part of the introduction of a new graphics package) to commercial breaks and through entire broadcasts of its original programs.
In August 2015, reports surfaced that the Weather Company's owners were considering a sale of all or part of the venture, having hired Morgan Stanley and PJT Partners to explore their options. On October 28, 2015, it was announced that IBM would acquire most of the Weather Company's assets, including weather.com, Weather Underground, the related mobile applications, and their underlying data platforms, for an undisclosed amount. IBM plans to leverage its Watson technology as part of the acquisition, foreseeing its use for weather analytics and predictions. The deal, which closed the following January, does not include the Weather Channel itself, which remained owned by the Bain/Blackstone/NBCUniversal consortium, and entered into a long-term licensing agreement with IBM for use of its weather data and "The Weather Channel" name and branding.
In the early morning hours of April 18, 2019, the Weather Channel was temporarily unable to air live programming due to what they called a "malicious software attack" on their network. Previously taped shows were aired while engineers worked with backup equipment, and live programming returned to normal within a few hours (at the time, AMHQ). As of May 2019, the investigation into the malware attack is still active.
Sale to Entertainment Studios
On March 22, 2018, Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios announced its intent to acquire the Weather Channel's television assets from the NBCUniversal/Bain/Blackstone partnership. The actual value is undisclosed, but was reported to be around $300 million; the channel's non-television assets, which were separately sold to IBM two years prior, were not included in the sale.
Over the years, attempts to broadcast international versions of TWC – apart from the Australian version of the Weather Channel (now Sky News Weather Channel) – have failed. TWC also operates websites that provide localized forecasts in Brazil, France, Germany, India, Latin America and the United Kingdom, but some of these sites apparently have not been developed further since 2003. the Weather Channel also shares radar imagery and forecasts with the Weather Network in Canada, particularly for the Weather Channel's Canadian forecasts.
- A U.K. version of the Weather Channel operated from September 1, 1996 to January 30, 1998, when it was shut down due to low viewership. It shared channel space with Sky Movies Gold/Sky Box Office 2, The Racing Channel and Galavision, airing for five hours a day. It was designed for cable as it had local weather information for specific regions; in some areas, it was carried on cable providers 24 hours a day.
- TWC also operated the Weather Channel Latin America, a Spanish-language network serving Mexico, Puerto Rico and South America. This network launched in 1996 and an accompanying Brazilian Portuguese-language feed launched in 1998; it ceased operations on December 20, 2002 due to budget cuts. The channel's three original on-camera weather presenters were Paola Elorza, Sal Morales, and Mari Carmen Ramos; all three left the channel within a year of its launch and respectively went on to work for Univision in Miami, Telemundo in Los Angeles, and CNN International in Atlanta.
Local on the 8s
Since its inception, the Weather Channel has broadcast segments providing local weather observations and forecasts generated by WeatherStar systems ("STAR" being an acronym for Satellite Transponder Addressable Receiver), proprietary computer units that are installed at the headends of individual cable providers. Until 1995, the forecast segments aired at various times each hour, but are currently shown at times ending in "8" – as such, in 1996 (although it would not be used full-time until 2002), the channel adopted "Local on the 8s" as the title for the segments (though local forecast segments aired on the channel are reduced to once per half-hour whenever non-forecast programs air). With the introduction of the IntelliStar system (the sixth-generation STAR system, which was introduced in 2002), traffic information was also generated that provided roadway flow, construction and accident information for metropolitan areas where traffic.com (via its TrafficPulse service) provides traffic data; however, this feature was eliminated from the IntelliStar's programmed "flavors" (the arrangements of specialized segments played during individual local forecasts) when traffic.com ended its content agreement with TWC in 2010.
The WeatherStar systems also utilize a Lower Display Line (LDL) that appears at the bottom of the screen during all programming (until November 2013, it had been limited to only local forecasts and national programming, while being removed from the screen during commercial breaks), providing current conditions for a specific location and two or three towns within 15 miles, almanac data and forecasts on cable headends using the IntelliStar system, and only current conditions and forecasts on cable headends using STAR models from WeatherStar XL and older. WeatherStar units also allow cable providers to scroll text messages when in use, including the capability to broadcast severe weather advisories and warnings in effect for the jurisdiction in which the WeatherStar system's cable headend is located and its immediate surrounding area.
|The Weather Channel HD||The Weather Channel launched a high definition simulcast feed – which broadcasts in the 1080i resolution format – on September 26, 2007, initially available on DirecTV. As of 2014[update], all of the network's programming is currently produced in high definition (with the exception of It Could Happen Tomorrow, Full Force Nature and older episodes of Storm Stories), which is presented on the standard definition channel in a modified letterboxed format that fills space that would usually be filled by black bars with weather information provided by the Lower Display Line at the bottom of the screen. The Weather Channel HD is carried on most major cable and satellite providers (such as Comcast Xfinity, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Cablevision, AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, DirecTV and Dish Network), many of which added the HD feed throughout the fourth quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008.
When the HD feed was launched, none of the channel's programming was actually presented in high definition, outside of a national "satellite" version of the "Local on the 8s" segment; Epic Conditions and WeatherVentures became the channel's first two programs to be presented in HD, when they premiered on October 1, 2007. TWC began broadcasting studio programming in high definition on June 2, 2008, with the introduction of a new studio that features various environmentally friendly technologies.
The IntelliStar 2, the seventh-generation STAR system and the first to generate graphical weather data in HD, was officially released in July 2010 (although similar to previous recent STAR systems, among its modifications include an animated Lower Display Line and a Vocal Local narration track recorded by TWC meteorologist Jim Cantore). The system was gradually rolled out to major U.S. cable providers strictly for use on the HD feed, and would not replace existing operational STAR units from IntelliStar and older used on TWC's standard definition feed or Weatherscan, making it one of the few channels which by necessity does not have an "autotune to HD" version for providers that utilize set-top boxes allowing HD tuning to standard definition channel positions, unless the HD version has local forecast capabilities. As of August 2015, some providers (such as Comcast) are using the IntelliStar 2 on the standard definition channel in some locations. DirecTV began carrying the "Local on the 8s" segment in HD via an app on set-top boxes on September 29, 2009.
|The Weather Channel on Demand||The Weather Channel on Demand is the channel's video-on-demand service, offering a selection of episodes of its original series and original specials to digital cable and IPTV providers. Unlike the linear television channel and its sister website, the service does not provide national or local weather forecasts.|
|Weatherscan||Weatherscan (originally called Weatherscan Local until 2003) is a companion digital cable and satellite channel that was launched in 1999, which maintains a format consisting of local weather forecasts in a continuous loop uninterrupted by commercials. Available in fewer markets than the Weather Channel, it is primarily available on the digital tiers of some cable providers (however, certain systems carry Weatherscan on a basic tier, where the Weather Channel is traditionally carried); a separate feed for satellite subscribers launched on Dish Network in the summer of 2010. Weatherscan's forecast products are generated by an IntelliStar unit at the cable provider's headend, which is configured differently than those systems used by the Weather Channel; the systems feature different graphics and include additional weather products. Weatherscan displays an "L"-bar (similar to that used by the now-defunct NBC Weather Plus) that provides current conditions and weather forecasts for a particular location and its surrounding area at all times during programming, with weather information also being shown on the top right two-thirds of the screen.|
|Local Now||Local Now is a companion over-the-top channel that launched on January 25, 2016. Similar in format to Weatherscan, the service maintains a format consisting of local weather forecasts, traffic reports, and news headlines as well as local news and sports in a continuous loop. The service is distributed to over-the-top streaming services modeled similarly to traditional pay television providers as well as on an app for iOS and Android for those who subscribe to the Weather Channel through pay-TV.|
Radio and newspaper presence
The Weather Channel provides forecasts for satellite radio provider Sirius XM Radio in the United States. Both services run regional forecasts on a single station, and operate several individual stations providing combined local weather and traffic information for major metropolitan areas.
TWC also maintains content partnerships with a number of local U.S. radio stations to provide local forecasts, using announcers separate from the meteorologists seen on the television channel. For some affiliates, the Weather Channel provides a limited amount of live coverage during local severe weather events (with the Georgia-based announcers connected via ISDN). Distribution of TWC radio content is currently handled by Westwood One.
Similarly, the Weather Channel also provides weather reports for a number of newspapers around the United States. This included a half-page national forecast for USA Today, for which TWC provided content until September 2012, when rival AccuWeather replaced the Weather Channel as the paper's forecast provider with TWC's forecasts being replaced with AccuWeather's on the USAToday.com website one month later.
TWC provided numerous customized forecasts for online users through its website, weather.com, including home and garden, and event planning forecasts. Third-party web analytics providers Alexa and SimilarWeb rated the site as the 146th and 244th most visited website in the world respectively, as of July 2015. SimilarWeb rates the site as the second most visited weather website globally, attracting more than 126 million visitors per month.
It also provided WAP access for mobile phone users, desktop widgets for quick reference by computer users, and customized weather feeds for individual websites. Cell phone customers could also receive local forecasts from TWC sent to their mobile handsets via SMS by sending a text message with their ZIP code to 42278 (which spells "4cast"). The Weather Channel also provided weather forecasts for other online services including Yahoo!.
In addition, The Weather Channel maintained apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android, Apple TV, Kindle Fire, and Windows mobile and tablet platforms. TWC formerly maintained two versions of its mobile applications: a free version that incorporates advertising and a pay version called "TWC Max" that does not feature advertising, the latter was discontinued in favor of an all ad-supported model on January 6, 2014. Aside from location-based weather forecast information, the apps provided radar maps, and tropical and seasonal updates, as well as social media related functions that track weather-related Twitter messages and allow users to send Facebook friends severe weather alerts. The channel also disseminated severe weather information, and photos and videos submitted by meteorologists and viewers, on its Twitter feed (@TWCBreaking, which also served as a hashtag usable for posts).
In July 2012, the Weather Company (former owner of the Weather Channel) purchased competing weather website Weather Underground. While the Weather Channel already had success with its own mobile apps, it planned to use Weather Underground's large network of digital forecasting and tracking websites to bolster its digital growth. Weather Underground operates separately from the Weather Channel and continues to provide its own forecasts, though its website incorporates some weather news and video content from TWC.
Weather forecast programming made up TWC's entire schedule prior to its incorporation of weather-related original programming – referred in network promotional materials and press releases as "long-form programming" – in 2000 (with few breakaways from its forecast programs prior to then, outside of educational program The Weather Classroom, an original program produced as part of the cable television industry's Cable in the Classroom initiative). The number of hours devoted to TWC's in-studio forecast programs have steadily eroded since then. The network's live studio programs are aired regularly from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on weekdays and 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on weekends and holidays. AMHQ airs weekdays between 5:00 and 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time; these are followed by the Weather Channel's flagship program, Weather Center Live which is aired from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern, and the network's evening program, Weather Underground, which airs from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern. On weekends, AMHQ is aired from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., followed by Weekend Recharge from 9:00 am to 1:00 p.m. On April 21, 2018, Weekend Recharge began airing for an additional hour until 1:00 p.m, following the previous week's TV end to Weather Geeks, which is now done in the form of a podcast.
The Weather Channel also broadcast original weather-related documentary/entertainment series and specials. These programs ran throughout the rest of the schedule. During severe weather events affecting portions of the United States, the Weather Channel may preempt original programming in favor of airing extended coverage under the umbrella title Weather Center Live (which move the color of the word "LIVE" from blue to red) to provide long-form coverage and analysis until its aftermath; in some events, the on-air graphics (including Lower Display Line) can go black-and-red (similar to colors that WCL uses); pre-emptions vary between local (isolated to viewers in the region affected by a particular weather event) and nationwide, depending upon the impact of the weather phenomenon/story and if a local provider utilizes a later model WeatherStar unit that allows the use of dual feeds that can substitute programming with long-form weather coverage in a given area. TWC normally utilizes a different music theme for these events, dubbed "Storm Alert Mode", used for both WCL and LOT8's.
In a move that caused controversy with many longtime viewers, the Weather Channel began airing weather-related movies on Friday nights on October 30, 2009. The first feature to be broadcast by the channel was the 2000 film The Perfect Storm.
After December 2009, these weekly movies were discontinued for the time being in favor of running Weather Center, which already aired throughout primetime during the rest of the work week. Despite the controversy, the Friday night film block resumed on March 26, 2010 under the title "Flick and a Forecast," co-hosted by the Weather Channel meteorologist Jen Carfagno and MSNBC contributor Touré, with the documentary Into Thin Air: Deaths on Everest. During the broadcasts, the Lower Display Line that normally appears on TWC shows to provide local weather information (with breakaways during forecast and most long-form programs only for commercial breaks) was removed, appearing only a few times each hour during the film as a substitute for the standard "Local on the 8s" segments, with a translucent TWC logo bug appearing at other times during the film when the LDL was not on-screen.
While the films shown within the "Flick and a Forecast" block were weather-related in some form, some films featured (such as Misery and Deep Blue Sea) had only a minimal tie to weather. On May 31, 2010, NewsBlues reported the Weather Channel's decision to cancel the movie block, due in part to viewer criticism of movies being shown on what is intended as a news and information channel, as well as a snafu that occurred during an April 2010 tornado outbreak that led to a scheduled movie being aired instead of wall-to-wall severe weather coverage. The "Flick and a Forecast" presentations were then replaced by an additional hour of Weather Center and a two-hour block of long-form original programs.
Notable current personalities
- Stephanie Abrams: AMHQ (2003–present)
- Mike Bettes: Meteorologist, anchor of Weather Underground and lead tornado tracker (2003–present)
- Jen Carfagno: AMHQ (2003–present)
- Kelly Cass: AMHQ Weekend (2000–present)
- Paul Goodloe: Weekend Recharge (1999–present)
- Reynolds Wolf: AMHQ Weekend (2012–present)
- Jim Cantore: Storm specialist, AMHQ co-anchor (1986–present)
- Greg Forbes: Severe Weather Expert (1999–present)
- Rick Knabb: Hurricane specialist (2017–present)
- Dave Malkoff: Field/Feature reporter (2012–present)
- Mike Seidel: Meteorologist, field reporter (1992–present)
- John Coleman: Founder of the Weather Channel; deceased
- John Hope: Meteorologist/hurricane expert 1982–1998; deceased
- Vivian Brown: 1986–2015
- Crystal Egger: 2010–2013; last with KNBC in Los Angeles
- Gary Ley: 1982-1985; last with WJAR in Providence RI
- Al Roker: 2009–2015; current co-host of Today
- Dave Schwartz: 1991–2008, 2014–2016; deceased
- Sam Champion: 2014–2016
- Anaridis Rodriguez: 2014–2017; now at WBZ-TV
- Maria LaRosa: Weekend Recharge (2010–2018) now at WNBC in New York, NY
- Cheryl Lemke: 1986-2008, now Chief Meteorologist at WICS in Springfield, IL.
The Weather Channel's first and most recognized logo was a blue rectangular box with rounded edges that debuted with the Weather Channel's first broadcast on May 2, 1982. This logo was revised in 1996, with the corners becoming less rounded and the logo becoming slightly flat. The weather.com URL text was permanently added underneath the logo in 1999. On August 15, 2005, the logo was overhauled again; the logo became a straight-edged square with no white trim on the edge and "The Weather Channel" text became oriented in title-case and left-justified, similar to its Canadian sister channel the Weather Network. A 25th-anniversary logo used in 2007 featured a white square edged in blue connected to the current logo with the text "25 YEARS" inside it in blue.
When NBCUniversal acquired the network in 2008, the network has participated in the "Green is Universal" campaign, which occurs twice a year, usually during April and November. The network's logo changes to a shade of green as part of the campaign promoting environmental conservation. Since 2014, the network has utilized a red-colored version of the logo during hurricane coverage; the red logo has also appeared during severe tornado outbreaks.
- 1982–1983: We Take the Weather Seriously, But Not Ourselves
- 1983–1984: The Cable Television Network for America's Lifestyle
- 1984–1986: Weatherproofing America
- 1986–1991: You Need Us, the Weather Channel, for Everything You Do
- 1991–1996: Weather You Can Always Turn To
- 1996–1998: No Place on Earth Has Better Weather
- 1998–2001: Keeping You Ahead of the Storm
- 2001–2005: Live By It
- 2005–2008: Bringing Weather to Life
- June 2–late 2008: The Weather Has Never Looked Better
- 2009–early 2010: The Sounds of Weather. Hear It, See It, Live It
- 2013–present: It's Amazing Out There
- 2015–2016: Where You Get Your Weather Matters
- 2017–present: Trust In Us To Be There (Current promotional campaign)
Cable and satellite carriage disputes
Dish Network carriage dispute
On May 20, 2010, Dish Network announced that it was dropping the Weather Channel at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time that day in favor of its own similar weather information channel, the Weather Cast. The carriage dispute was over the rates that the Weather Channel asked Dish Network to pay: from 11¢ per subscriber per month to 12¢, a 9% increase, totaling $140,000 per month. The dispute was also over the Weather Channel's programming format shifting from an information-based channel to an entertainment-based service. The Weather Channel said in a statement, "Dish has chosen to be the first distributor to drop the Weather Channel rather than pay the standard industry rates others in the industry have already agreed to pay", and encouraged Dish Network customers to switch to other pay television providers. Dave Shull, senior vice president for programming for Dish Network said the Weather Channel's fees were harder for the satellite provider to justify paying as more people receive weather information through the internet and mobile services: "They're looking for bid increases when I feel like there's a real migration to the Web, and it's difficult to really justify those rate increases at this time."
On May 24, 2010, the Weather Channel announced that it had reached a new multi-year carriage agreement with Dish Network, the financial terms of which were not disclosed. Despite the earlier announcement that the Weather Channel would be dropped, the channel was never officially removed from Dish Network. The Weather Cast ceased operations in anticipation of the launch of a Weatherscan-based service announced as part of the agreement that would provide local weather information for Dish Network customers. The proposed movie scheduled for the Friday after the deal was struck (May 28), Gorillas in the Mist, was dropped in favor of a six-hour marathon of Tornado Road.
DirecTV carriage dispute
DirecTV removed the Weather Channel from its lineup at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time on January 14, 2014, after the two parties were unable to come to terms on a new carriage agreement; as a result, DirecTV became the first major pay television provider to drop the channel in its history. Two weeks before the channel's carriage agreement was set to expire on December 31 (after which the deadline for a new carriage deal was extended by two weeks), the satellite provider began carrying WeatherNation TV (the successor to the Weather Cast and owned by WeatherNation, LLC) on channel 361 on December 16, 2013 – placing the channel next to the Weather Channel's slot on channel 362; WeatherNation replaced the Weather Channel on channel 362 – while still being carried on channel 361 – when TWC was pulled.
The Weather Channel's chief executive officer David Kenny stated that it offered DirecTV the best rate for its programming (according to SNL Kagan, the Weather Channel's average carriage fee at the time was 13¢ per subscriber), and blasted the satellite provider's removal of the channel by stating that it was putting profits ahead of public safety. Representatives for DirecTV stated that it added WeatherNation TV in response to subscriber complaints regarding the number of reality programs on the Weather Channel, which it estimated had amounted to 40% of its daily schedule (WeatherNation TV, which outside of its carriage by DirecTV is primarily carried on broadcast television stations as a main channel affiliation or a digital multicast service, does not run programming outside of forecasts with the only interruption in its weather coverage coming from affiliates that carry children's programs to fulfill FCC educational programming requirements; however, WeatherNation has been criticized for its very limited amount of live programming, which TWC does provide, especially during significant weather events). DirecTV stated that weather information is also available through broadcast television stations carried as part of its local channel tier, as well as the provider's designated emergency channels. The Weather Channel fought back by airing commercials encouraging people to not subscribe to DirecTV by parodying the provider's popular "Get Rid of Cable" ad campaign.
On April 8, 2014, the Weather Channel and DirecTV both settled on a new agreement (TWC decided to alter its programming lineup by trimming the amount of reality programming on weekdays in half, restricting them to its nighttime schedule, in response to complaints from DirecTV subscribers), with the provider restoring the channel on channel 362 the following day. Access to local weather content using the red button feature did not return until May 2, 2014.
Verizon FiOS removal and return
Verizon FiOS dropped the Weather Channel and its sister network Weatherscan from its lineup at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time on March 10, 2015, after the two parties were unable to come to terms on a new carriage agreement. The services have respectively been replaced by the AccuWeather Network (which launched on March 10) and a widget provided by FiOS featuring forecast content provided by WeatherBug. No public announcement was made regarding the removal until over 12 hours after TWC and Weatherscan were pulled. The Weather Channel offered a less expensive deal to Verizon FiOS, which rejected the offer. Verizon cited the Weather Channel's frequent use of scare tactics, naming of winter storms and the wide availability of the internet and mobile apps for consumers to access weather content any time of day as the reason for dropping TWC and its services. It is unknown if Frontier FiOS customers in clusters formerly served by Verizon are affected, including (as of April 1, 2016) the recently acquired clusters from California, Texas, and Florida.
A representative for the network said in a statement, "We were disappointed when, without warning late yesterday, March 9, Verizon FiOS dropped the Weather Channel from their lineup while our companies continued to be in active conversations regarding a contract renewal. FiOS customers have enjoyed a bundle of services from the Weather Channel including the network, Weatherscan, On-Demand, a Weather Widget and streaming on mobile devices. During a winter with record-breaking storms and severe weather, the Weather Channel responded with non-stop live coverage, including the ongoing presence of our crews reporting live from hard-hit communities within the Verizon FiOS footprint. This coverage resulted in the Weather Channel being the only major cable network to grow in February."
The Weather Channel had earlier signed renewal agreements with major providers that are members of the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), including Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications. However, representatives for the channel claimed to be shocked that "Verizon FiOS would deny their subscribers access to the best live weather coverage and expertise that only the Weather Channel can provide." While Verizon claimed it was a long-term business decision (instead of a carriage dispute) that it made, the Weather Channel launched a campaign, originally urging viewers to contact FiOS about restoring the cable channel and its services. But, seeing that Verizon is not planning on bringing the channel and its services back in the near future, the Weather Channel now urges its viewers to switch providers.
After a four-year absence and with the channel under ownership of Entertainment Studios, Verizon FiOS inked a new agreement to bring the Weather Channel back to its lineups on June 24, 2019. The channel has not yet returned to channel lineups within Frontier FiOS's customer footprint.
Winter storm naming
In the fall of 2012, the Weather Channel began to assign names to major winter storm systems. The channel's management stated the decision to start naming notable winter storms came as a way to more easily spread knowledge and raise awareness. By naming winter storms, TWC stated that the public would find it easier to follow storm information, social media will be able to refer to and discuss the storm, and people will have an easier time referring to the storm after it occurs. However, critics of the Weather Channel insist it is a way to further hype winter weather, especially on the heavily populated upper East Coast.
The first winter storm to be named by TWC was a nor'easter that hit the East Coast of the United States in November 2012, which was named after the Greek goddess Athena. During the 2012–13 season, the Weather Channel named 27 winter storms (Athena, Brutus, Caesar, Draco, Euclid, Freyr, Gandolf, Helen, Iago, Jove, Khan, Luna, Magnus, Nemo, Orko, Plato, Q, Rocky, Saturn, Triton, Ukko, Virgil, Walda, Xerxes, Yogi, Zeus and Achilles). During the 2013-14 season, the Weather Channel named 26 winter storms (Atlas, Boreas, Cleon, Dion, Electra, Falco, Gemini, Hercules, Ion, Janus, Kronos, Leon, Maximus, Nika, Orion, Pax, Seneca, Titan, Ulysses, Vulcan, Wiley, Xenia, Yona and Zephyr). Multiple factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether to name a winter storm. This includes, but is not limited to, predicted snowfall and other precipitation, wind speeds, and the timing of the storm.
The Weather Channel has provided the criteria behind their decisions to name certain storms, in particular Athena, Brutus, Gandolf, Iago, Khan, Luna, Magnus, Nemo, Saturn, and Virgil.
In response, the National Weather Service announced on November 7, 2012, that it would not recognize the Weather Channel's names for winter storms, stating in a press release that it "does not use the name of winter storms in its products." Some commentators have suggested that naming winter storms may give them undue importance in the public eye by drawing parallels to official names given to Tropical Storms, which are significantly more severe and devastating than winter storms, by the National Weather Service. References to the names are generally limited on TWC-provided forecasts seen on NBC's news programs.
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