Weather Channel Sings Happy Tune

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Continuing to expand its base of long-form programming, The Weather Channel is buttressing its specials lineup and fortifying signature series Storm Stories with an array of new themed installments.

Network executives last week also supplied Madison Avenue executives with findings from a recent survey underlining the service’s strong position relative to advertisement recall, as well as the value of delivering messages within its environment. TWC made its upfront presentation to advertisers at the Metropolitan Pavilion on April 20.

Extreme Weather Theories, debuting May 27 at 8:30 p.m., will distinguish fact from fiction relative to weather theories with expert opinions from scientists, including the network’s own climate expert, Dr. Heidi Cullen. The show airs the night before the premiere of the 20th Century Fox theatrical film The Day After, in which a new ice age encases New York City in a deep freeze.

Network executives said that the film’s producers requested the channel’s graphics to add verisimilitude to the drama.

Later this year, TWC will present the first in a series of quarterly specials under the moniker “Surviving the Elements.” Focusing on some of nature’s worst-case scenarios, the show will tell viewers how to make safe choices in preparing, planning for and protect themselves in nature’s worst situations.

“It’s useful information about what one should do if caught in a flood situation, or an avalanche,” The Weather Channel Networks president Patrick Scott told Multichannel News at the upfront.

Conversely, the network will keep conditions a little calmer with another quarterly special called “Great Weather Escapes.” It will shine the light on some of the planet’s idyllic weather destinations.

Among existing entries, TWC plans six new specials under its “Forecast Earth” umbrella of environmental programming.

“Heroes of the Storm,” “Winter’s Wrath” and “Survival Week” are among the themed weeks that viewers can catch on Storm Stories during 2004-05.

“We’ve gotten longer length of tune in with Storm Stories and our specials. Viewers are kicking back in the evening so we need to entertain them more, but we keep them informed about the local weather on the bottom of the screen,” Scott said.

Vice president of network research Ned Greenberg noted that Storm Stories, which airs weeknights from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., is also a “strong lead-in” to the service’s nightly news program, Evening Edition. Those programs posted a 16% gain among adults 25 to 54 during the first quarter, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

The network also talked up research it commissioned from ASI Entertainment about advertising recall at its upfront.

Drawing from telephone responses from 1,250 adults 18 to 64 from March 8 through April 8, ASI found that commercials were viewed and remembered 50% more often on Weather than on other networks. The ratios were even higher among tagged ads versus traditional 30-second sports on Weather: 38% greater for tagged ads; 70% higher for sponsored segments; and 125% more for weather-triggered spots.

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