New York— More daypart-centric programming and interstitials are in the forecast for The Weather Channel's programming lineup this fall.
A pair of new two-hour weekday blocks — along with two ongoing series of featurettes — highlight what's ahead for the network, which turns 21 next month.
Afternoon Outlook, beginning at 4 p.m. ET, and PM Edition
will run back-to-back. Both will blend in current forecast updates, five- and seven-day planner segments and weather-related lifestyle tips.
Network executives introduced the fall programming plans here last week at an upfront event attended by more than 300 ad-industry and media representatives that featured a performance by singer Michelle Branch, a 2003 Grammy Award winner.
Conversion in works
The new blocks accelerate a format conversion The Weather Channel has gradually instituted over the last five years — a switch from hour-long forecaster shifts to multiple-hour shows with specific hosts and a set tone.
Your Weather Today
set the process in motion for the morning hours. That was followed by First Outlook, aimed at early-risers, Weekend Now, and most recently, Evening Edition.
Veteran network personalities Jeff Morrow and Vivian Brown will co-anchor Afternoon Outlook, with Kristina Abernathy and Carl Parker sharing duties for PM Edition.
All of the multi-hour blocks will spend more time covering the impact weather has on people's lives and passions, in keeping with the channel's recently adopted tag line, "It's not about the weather, it's about life."
"It's about what the weather means to you, giving you confidence, reassurance, support," explained Lyn Andrews, president of the network's new-media solutions group. "The subject matter is not just about radar and forecasts. It's about getting control of our lives and the drama over life we can't control."
Also coming this fall will be TWC Road Crew, a live two-minute portion of Evening Edition and Weekend Now originating from sports events, festivals and entertainment attractions nationwide.
Host Kelsa Kinsly will handle the interstitials, with the first ones anticipated to appear live sometime around Labor Day (Sept. 1).
Other time slots will offer Weather Center, which will feature outdoor activity opportunities, home repair and gardening ideas.
Next year, Weather Channel will roll out the latest incarnation of Weather Star, the content storage and insertion
device that handles the network's local-forecast presentations about every eight to nine minutes, said CEO Bill Burke.
Known as Intellistar, the cable-headend unit will allow advertisers to deliver multiple messages in the same market by zip code or demographic, as well as change ad content on the fly when conditions warrant it.
Day-and-date program promotion is another avenue in which Intellistar may head.
Hitting the road
In other programming developments, Weather may air more extended segments away from its Atlanta studios. Last week, Your Weather Today
originated from New Orleans for two days, in conjunction with Louisiana's bicentennial celebration.
New York is among the sites under consideration for 2004.
Executives said there were several ideas in development for companion series Storm Stories, the nightly weather disaster show.
With two half-hour episodes running weeknights from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., Storm increased the channel's household ratings 33 percent, to a record 0.4 household rating in the time period, since it began airing in January.
All told, Weather averaged a 0.3 household rating in both primetime and total-day during the first quarter, Dec. 30, 2002, through March 23, according to Nielsen Media Research data.