The battle over TV/media
weather content is just beginning, with new competitors ready to do battle -- stemming, in part, from DirecTV’s recent fight with The Weather Channel over subscriber fees, which has pushed the
channel off the satellite TV provider’s lineup.
Weather Channel gets around 14 cents a subscriber a month from TV providers, according to SNL Kagan. Reports suggest that DirecTV is
looking for a rare 20% cut in Weather Channel subscriber fees -- to around 11 cents. TV providers typically try to hold the line when it comes to subscribers' fee negotiations -- and rarely, if ever,
to cut a fee.
The Weather Channel, a longtime U.S. cable network owned by NBCUniversal, Bain & Co. and the Blackstone Group, has replaced DirecTV with an independent company --
Greenwood Village, Colo.-based WeatherNation. WeatherNation, by some estimates, isn’t getting any subscriber fees.
SNL Kagan says for that 2014, a cut in Weather Channel sub fees
would mean an overall annual subscriber revenue drop to $128.6 million a year, down from an earlier $167.2 million estimate. SNL also estimates The Weather Channel will pull in annual gross
advertising revenues of $208.5 million this year.
Plus, new weather-based cable networks are seemingly looking to offer up more TV competition in the weather programming space.
In addition to WeatherNation, State College, Pa.-based AccuWeather announced it will launch a full-time TV weather channel, to be known as the AccuWeather Channel, in the third quarter of 2014.
The 50-year-old AccuWeather has been a longtime provider of content to many TV station groups, more recently moving into the mobile space. Barry Lee Myers, chief executive officer of
AccuWeather, said the company had longer-term plans to start up a TV channel, but in light of the DirecTV/Weather Channel battle, it moved up its launch date. Myers offered up no details about
possible financial models or distribution partners of the expected launch.
Six years ago, AccuWeather made the push into mobile weather, where it says it dominates other weather services --
on over 1 billion devices globally. Myers says the company will get a heads up with expanding new TV technology. “We jumped on it early,” he says. “[We also saw] the opportunity to
back scale into television. Smart TVs could connect to the Internet. Internet-based services could become channels.”
Citing differences with traditional TV-based weather networks,
AccuWeather says it provides better accuracy, longer forecast time frames -- and soon, the most detailed estimates. It will soon launch MinuteCast, which provides minute-by-minute forecasts for every
location in the United States and Canada.