Gannett's broadcast division has chosen Weather Services
International (WSI) as its vendor of choice for HD weather systems in 17 of its
19 markets and will launch WSI's WeatherActive interactive mapping technology
on its stations' Web sites.
Gannett already uses the HD weather system in 12 of its
market and will have it installed in 17 markets by mid-June, said WSI Media
Division vice president and general manager Bill Dow.
Dow cited several reasons for Gannett's decision, including
the realism and quality of the HD imagery and graphics offered by WSI's TruVu
Max HD system.
"We have a higher level of realism than our competitors,"
Dow said. "HD viewers are expecting a very high level of realism, and Gannett
recognized that. It was important for them to really capture that HD audience
and hold onto it."
Branding and cross-platform strategies were also important
considerations for Gannett, according to Dow. WSI's system can easily feed video
and content to the Internet and other platforms and allows Gannett to brand its
online weather product "as a Gannett interactive product, rather than something
from Microsoft and Google," said Dow.
The Gannett deal is another sign of improved market conditions
for HD upgrades, Dow said.
"Last year was definitely a bad year for almost every market,
but the first quarter this year was better than most stations thought it would
be and they are a little more bullish on the rest of the year," Dow said. "So,
they are looking to bring forward some capital purchases, particularly in the
HD area, that they hadn't necessary planned for this year."
Broadcast stations are particularly keen to find weather
solutions that improve the HD look and to deploy systems that make it easier to
feed content to Web sites and other platforms, according to Dow.
To capitalize on that demand, WSI announced several
improvements to its HD weather system at April's National Association of
Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas.
WSI has launched a SkyCast 4D product with improved visual
and audio feature as part of TruVu Max HD system, said Dow. These enhancements
provide "the realism of seeing the weather, the rain falling, in a 3D city
environment," Dow said. "We have also added sounds so you hear the rainfall or
heard the wind blow.
"The audio adds to the total experience and really helps
elevate the level of realism that our customers are looking for in an HD
solution," he added.
Stations are also keen to simplify the workflow. As multiplatform
strategies become "more important to their business and as they watch the
bottom line, they need to produce more for these platforms without adding new
people," Dow said. "So we added a new feature at NAB that allows the
weathercaster to produce weather video for the web without having to use any
other production resources at the station."