Looking to out-local the local TV broadcasters, The Weather Channel is launching “Local Now,” a new app for mobile devices that mixes localized news, weather, sports and traffic reports and content along with the service’s national live TV feed.
The Weather Channel is launching Local Now first on iOS and Android mobile devices and, later this summer, will push forward with plans to develop versions for a range of TV-connected platforms such as Roku players, Apple TV boxes, Android TV-powered devices, and Amazon Fire TV, said Freddy Flaxman, chief operating officer of The Weather Group.
The Weather Channel had already been distributing the Local Now service on Sling TV, Dish Network’s over-the-top TV service for cord-cutters. That offering launched in January as part of Sling TV’s core “Best of Live TV” service. The Weather Channel is also closing in on a similar type of OTT deal with a “prominent telco,” Flaxman said.
But the bigger focus early will be on the app and offering it as an authenticated TV everywhere offering. The Weather Channel has TVE rights secured with most traditional MVPDs, though discussions are still ongoing with Comcast and Charter Communications. Verizon FiOS TV dropped The Weather Channel in March 2015 after their distribution expired (FiOS now carries AccuWeather Network).
With the new app, The Weather Channel decided to play up the local angle because consumers still crave local news and weather information and because The Weather Channel already has the technology in place to produce local content that can be adapted to the new mobile app, and do it at scale, Flaxman said.
“We think through the combination of our ability with weather and traffic and creative solutions around news, we can deliver a much more modern product that outpaces the local affiliates in the local content dimensions that matter for consumers,” Flaxman said. “Local news became a clear place for us where we thought we should play…We think the local affiliate is sort of an antiquated product.”
More detail about the app, its technology components, possible monetization strategies for it, and other features planned for the app will be covered in the June 13 edition of Next TV, a weekly section that runs each week in Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.