In keeping with the recent trend of weather channels that actually focus on the weather, leading meteorological information provider AccuWeather has launched its own television network, initially available on FiOS TV, but hopefully coming soon to cable or satellite TV provider near you.
AccuWeather officially launched on March 12 but in reality began showing up on FiOS TV systems on March 10, after the telco TV provider dropped The Weather Channel after it could not reach a favorable carriage agreement. AccuWeather, which got its start in 1962 offering weather information to TV and radio stations, has had a substantial digital presence over the past several years, and CEO Barry Myers believes the time is right to branch out into the television space.
AccuWeather announced last year that it planned to do a TV offering, but has kept its plans under wraps ever since. CEO Barry Lee Myers said that while the company has a substantial digital and web presence – it reaches about 1.5 billion people globally and according to Experian its web site is the largest weather web site in the United States – he believes the time is right to crack the TV market.
“Televisions are turning into giant tablets in your home,” Myers said. “They have Internet connectivity and they have all kinds of new capabilities, so why not give people what they want, which is all-weather, all the time.”
Myers added that he sees AccuWeather Network as a channel that people check into while they’re channel surfing, downloading something from an OTT service, or just as background. But the idea is that it will always be there with pertinent local information.
“You don’t tune into it and find some other programming going on so that you have to wait for weather to come up,” Myers said.
Myers said the AccuWeather network feels like a digital experience – it has live meteorologists giving national and local forecasts and updates, but their presentations are wrapped by an L-bar of local weather information so viewers can get the pertinent weather facts immediately.
In addition to national, regional and local weather updates, the channel also reports on weather news and how it realties to people’s lives with topics like family, safety, lifestyle, health ,travel, business and sports, Myers said.
“Local forecasting is the heart and soul of it,” Myers said.
While The Weather Channel pioneered cable weather, competitors have sprung up in recent years as distributors complained about its focus on weather-related reality shows like Storm Chasers and away from local forecasts. WeatherNation came into prominence last year after DirecTV entered into a three-month long dispute with The Weather Channel. DirecTV signed a long-term deal with WeatherNation and other distributors have followed suit, even as they have kept their carriage of The Weather Channel. TWC returned to DirecTV in April, and has refocused its efforts on local information and forecasting.
While it is likely AccuWeather is considerably less costly than TWC – Myers would not discuss financials, or even if the network charged a carriage fee at all – but he believes other distributors will see the value in carrying the channel.
“I think that every cable, fiber and direct satellite provider is going to want this channel because it gives their audience something that they are not getting,” Myers said, adding that although discussions are in the early stages, AccuWeather is in contact with the industry. “I do see that this will be ramping up and that there will be a cascade of people that want this.”