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.

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  • icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 16 Sep 2015 @ 3:12am

    Who is watching this?

    I'm confused as to who is actually sitting on a couch and watching the weather channel rather than taking a cursory look at the Weather.com widget on their smart phones? Isn't the TV portion of all of this completely outdated and unnecessary?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2015 @ 4:41am

      Re: Who is watching this?

      I agree for the most part. Other than watching live coverage of major weather events, I would not flip to the weather channel for more than a few minutes to catch the current forecast. Oh, and Fat Guys in the Woods. I actually like that show.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2015 @ 4:51am

      Re: Who is watching this?

      The only time in my life where I have is during extreme weather, usually if it's close to affecting me. During those times, they generally did a better job than the local guys who have 1 person one staff who knows a damn thing about weather.

      I mean I cut the cord about....5 years ago now, so I can't say for sure what it's been like since then, but back then? that was the best for those fleeting moments in life.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 16 Sep 2015 @ 5:05am

      Re: Who is watching this?

      The same people watching the other 350 channels of dreck...old folks.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Mar 2016 @ 8:31pm

        Re: Re: Who is watching this?

        I am an "old folk," but I would watch this sh*t if you set my wheelchair on fire. (I don't HAVE or NEED a wheelchair, but I'm sure you think all of us over 65 do.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2015 @ 5:30am

      Re: Who is watching this?

      My grandparents actually do watch the weather channel. My parents watch the news. I get both from the internet or on my smartphone, and just chalk it up to generational differences.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        AricTheRed (profile), 16 Sep 2015 @ 8:01am

        Re: Re: Who is watching this?

        That's funny.

        I get my news and weather information from your grandparents and parents!

        That saves me from having a relationship with comcast at home...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), 16 Sep 2015 @ 6:09am

      Re: Who is watching this?

      If I watched TV, I'd subscribe to a channel that showed 50% weather coverage, and 50% anchors standing stupidly (and dangerously) around in thunderstorms, hurricanes, and blizzards. Or even something where I could stream that on my phone. A buck or two a month would be worth it for that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Aquifel (profile), 16 Sep 2015 @ 7:25am

      Re: Who is watching this?

      I used to use it as just some visual white noise, i guess. Its nice to have on while you're doing something else.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2015 @ 4:29am

    I can almost understand sitting and watching a weather channel during something like a hurricane. But the last major storm we had here Jim Cantori was a black behind me hyping up the info. It was already a pretty decent storm and didn't need the extra hype. The whole time I was running an old school IRC channel keeping everyone I know up to date on what was really happening...at least until the power went in a spectacular cascade failure of transformers that lasted 20 minutes and lit the sky in an eerie wavering blue light.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    cap10moe, 16 Sep 2015 @ 5:08am

    Horray!! Now, if we could get HLN covering real news, the Travel Channel covering travel, The Learning Channel covering things of interest we can learn from, Discovery Channel covering...I think you get my drift. Too many channels drifting away from their real mandate to air reality fluff.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dave blevins (profile), 16 Sep 2015 @ 6:30am

    The "weather" channel

    My Comcast version of the weather channel thinks my "local" area is about 30 miles from me. So my "Local on the 8s" is useless and there is NO WAY to contact anyone who might fix this, NO WAY, not Comcast, not NBC, not weather.com.

    Weather.com is slightly more useful but the amount of the page not taken up by ads or other non-weather items is very small. I've switched to weatherunderground.com for my weather.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    streetlight (profile), 16 Sep 2015 @ 6:36am

    Haven't watched Weather Channel for years

    And I'm not likely to start again. I think they got rid of most of the their knowledgeable in studio weather folks a long time ago and there's nothing there to watch. My go to weather info comes from Wunderground.com. It's now owned by the Weather Channel and seems to have kept its focus on weather, though their new web site design is terrible, slow and hard to use.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2015 @ 7:02am

    @ Dark Helmet "Who is watching this?" -- Same as with Techdirt, 4 out of first 10 comments are by the re-writers!

    Evidently you boy-clowns are trying open astro-turfing. Indeed, only reason I clicked in was because so many comments!

    The astro-turfing neatly parallels article topic. Now how about you getting back to either "tech" or "dirt"?

    Quick sampling, any of which beat this topic:

    "US training helped mold ISIS top military commander..."

    "Drug use at 'highest level in more than decade'..."

    "APPLE's ad-blocking software 'could threaten free Internet'..."

    "ATTACKERS SEVER FIBER-OPTIC CABLES IN SAN FRAN..."

    "GOOGLE hires mental health expert..."

    "Digital era hits income for writers..." (certain to show up: Author's Guild: Masnick will rant about their """study""", with many mock quotes)

    "TECH DISRUPTION HANGS OVER AUTOMAKERS AT FRANKFURT SHOW..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2015 @ 8:04am

      Re: @ Dark Helmet

      Oh look the Crown Prince of Copyright has shown up to tell everyone else how to do their job. Gold star for insulting the audience. It's no wonder people disrespect copyright so much. You are a perfect example of the dismissive attitude that has turned so many people into infringers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2015 @ 7:11am

    Living in the great State of Oklahoma nothing more is needed than:

    mesonet.org

    I never heard of the show "Fat Guys in the Woods" until I was visiting with some people I know who said they enjoyed watching it. But then again, they live in Missouri .. so 'nuff said.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2015 @ 8:04am

    Actually, my kids (all under 12) really like watching the hurricane/tornado based shows that air on TWC. And at least those shows are actually about weather.

    As for all the other stuff; no thanks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2015 @ 8:15am

    I used to remember watching the weather channel. That place that said it had no commercials and was proud of it. Did a fair job of covering the weather.

    Then one day to my horror, there were commercials. Thing is, they aren't the only ones to do weather. Hell, I gotta a weather station at home fills in most of what I want or need to know. It's calibrated and works just dandy. Between it and NOAA, I've forgotten about the weather channel. Then one day I didn't need a TV anymore nor a cable bill.

    Sexy beaches? That's a new one on me, never heard of such. They dress them in bikinis now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Kev (profile), 16 Sep 2015 @ 9:21am

    It would be great if they would also just stop trying to make winter storm names a thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2015 @ 9:23am

    Does this mean The Weather Channel will stop naming winter storms?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rapnel (profile), 16 Sep 2015 @ 12:35pm

    Came here to experience the winds of change - Was blown away

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    onefeather (profile), 23 Dec 2015 @ 6:52am

    reality weather channel

    The weather channel use to be good, but it is nothing more than a stupid silly reality show, they have these women on there that are 'eye candy' and no brains, they need to hire real meteorologist who have been to collage/school and know their job, it seems that they have Very Few who know about weather. I guess they are more into the reality shows than weather. I have talked to high school kids that know more facts about weather than the ladies they have on, yes they are cute and dress nice and make silly comments but seem to be brain dead about anything relating to weather.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The Doctor, 3 May 2016 @ 8:45am

    Forecasting

    When is the weather channel going to stop playing with their computers and start forecasting the weather? They sure know how to DAZZLE with graphics but can't tell you if it's going to rain or be sunny in the afternoon.
    S*** or get off the pot!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2017 @ 12:20pm

    Keep adds off of the weather channel.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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