The Weather Channel will put a greater emphasis on live weather information as part of an overall network rebranding, officials said. With a new tagline of “It’s Amazing Out There,” the rebranding will include an updated on-air look featuring new weather graphics for each of the network’s programming dayparts, according to network officials.
Weather will also focus on providing more local coverage of severe weather situations by offering continuous information crawls of local forecasts and live coverage of developing weather events specific to regions across the country, network president Dave Clark said.
“We felt like we needed to focus more on our strength, which is weather,” Clark said. “It’s a deeper commitment to the service role the channel plays, particularly in severe weather, in getting the right information out to the right communities at the right time.”
The channel will feature a new graphical look for its “Local on the 8s” weather reports to create a richer, more detailed local presentation of the weather, Clark said. For viewers who don’t want to wait 10 minutes for their local weather report, the network will feature weather information on the screen at all times, including during long-form programming and all commercial breaks.
For HD viewers, the screen will feature an enhanced sidebar with richer weather information, such as barometric pressure, tides and moon phases, as well as show rundown information.
The Weather Channel will also break from its national programming feed in local markets dealing with severe weather conditions. With more than 220 meteorologists on staff from around the country, Clark said the network has the ability to more effectively superserve markets dealing with breaking weather news. Clark added he expects to feature the local broadcasts approximately 125 to 150 times throughout the year.
The network’s longform, reality-themed programming lineup will be tied under the banner of “Natural Drama,” and will focus more on character-driven and science-driven shows about the natural world. New shows include Freaks of Nature, which profiles people who are able to withstand extreme weather conditions.
While the network has no plans to eliminate its entertainment- based programs, Clark said the network had gotten away from its knitting by trying to broaden its audience base with content that may not have effectively reflected The Weather Channel’s brand.
“We were always there during major weather-related events, but I think we had lost a little bit of focus outside of that,” he said. “I think there is a role for great stories that involve weather on the network, but I think the playbook that other networks have had, where they broadened from their core, is not the right one for The Weather Channel.”
The Weather Channel is hoping its increased on-air weather focus will help brighten its ratings forecast.
The network’s primetime numbers for the third quarter were down 19% year to year to 208,000 viewers. Its total-day numbers took an even bigger hit, down 25% from third-quarter 2012.
“For us, the path to grow ratings is appealing to the passion of weather enthusiasts as opposed to trying to broaden out and becoming a general-entertainment network,” Clark said.