The Weather Channel Finally Gets The Message: Announces Plan To Actually Cover…The Weather
from the brilliant-ideas dept
Over the last few years, The Weather Channel has been slowly but surely veering away from its core competency in a ham-fisted attempt to cater to the lowest common denominator. While its TV channel now offers a rotating variety of relative-awful reality TV only tangentially related to the weather, (ranging from Prospectors to Fat Guys in the Woods) its website often focuses on non-weather related subjects like kooky buffalo and hard-hitting analysis of the world’s “sexiest” beaches. Having anchors stand stupidly around in thundersnow storms is another favorite channel pastime.
But then something interesting happened. When The Weather Channel executives tried to up the rates on cable operators like DirecTV and Verizon FiOS, both companies balked — and pulled The Weather Channel from their lineups, replacing it with channels, apps and services that actually reported the weather. Apparently, threatening to pull your product from the market if you don’t get more money — only works when people give a damn about your product. Meanwhile, cable companies are having a harder time pushing off programming rate hikes to consumers awash with alternative options.
Initially, The Weather Channel executives responded by trying to claim DirecTV and Verizon were threatening public safety by pulling access to an invaluable public resource (an argument that fell flat on its face since most realize the channel doesn’t actually provide that). Then, the company amusingly tried to attack competitors like AccuWeather by actually claiming it offered too much fluff. But with a little time to think about it, The Weather Channel executives appear to have finally learned something.
The company this week announced a notable restructuring that will, amazingly enough, involve refocusing The Weather Channel on actually covering the weather:
“The plan calls for a singular focus “on our unique strength — and that is the weather.” With the cable channel bundle coming under increasing pressure, and “skinny bundles” becoming more common, “it’s inevitable that channels will be cut,” Weather Company CEO David Kenny said in an interview. With this in mind, “we need to be really clear who we are,” Kenny said.
That means paring back its original programming investments (shows like “Prospectors” and “Fat Guys in the Woods”) and lifestyle coverage. The priority is essential, live weather coverage — particularly during periods of severe weather — and local information.
Granted there’s only so many ways you can monetize a quick glance at the five-day forecast, and filling twenty-four hours of eyeball-grabbing airtime in the smartphone era without catering to nitwits will likely be a continued challenge. But it’s at least a positive sign that the company sees the cable TV landscape changing and needs to either change with it, or be left behind.