In A Pissing Match Everyone Gets Wet

cantore-weather-channel

The Weather Channel and DirecTV have gone past the end of their carriage agreement with no new contract in sight. Let the PR games begin!

It’s only been the last few years that cable companies, satellite providers, stations and networks began airing their disputes in public, asking for your help to make sure channels don’t disappear. That makes me uncomfortable.

From my vantage, this dispute seems the most public and potentially ugliest so far. The Weather Channel is both DirecTV’s supplier and competitor–mostly owned by NBC/Universal, which itself is owned by Comcast! Comcast has to be careful they’re not teaching their suppliers how to beat them at their own game!

The Weather Channel of 2014 isn’t the same service that John Coleman began in 1982. Back then it was 100% weather presented without much sizzle. Today’s TWC is much more slickly packaged with lots of non-weather programming. DirecTV says, “more than 40 percent of The Weather Channel’s programming is dedicated to reality television shows.”

Beyond that, its iconic “Local on-the-8s” forecast is no longer uniformly delivered. In Connecticut, Comcast didn’t provide the local forecast on TWC’s HD channel. The forecast on TWC’s standard def channel was for the shoreline and often inapplicable where I lived a few hundred feet up on Mount Carmel. Here in Irvine, AT&T Uverse doesn’t provide it at all.

It’s also a problem for DirecTV subscribers.

Since we are a national service provider, we’re unable to offer local updates through The Weather Channel the way that local-based companies can.

The Weather Channel is facing a financial reality some all news channels are also facing. People watch when the weather’s compelling and don’t when it isn’t. That’s part of the reason for the move into (easily preempted) unscripted non-fiction.

weathernationThe wild card in all this is DirecTV’s ace in-the-hole, WeatherNation. A few weeks ago DirecTV began carrying WeatherNation right next to The Weather Channel. Begun by Paul Douglas, a Minneapolis area meteorologist for years and innovator in computer graphics, WN reminds me of the ‘old’ Weather Channel. It’s all weather with clean graphics, nothing fancy. It looks like a lean operation with the on-camera meteorologists acting as their own director, switching the show live on-air.

The Weather Channel is pushing back on-air and on-line. Jim Cantore, their most recognizable meteorologist/personality, has become the company spokesman.

But now DIRECTV is threatening to remove this critical life-saving community resource from 20 million households.

The problem is TWC probably isn’t where you should go when weather is critical. You’re nearly always better served going to a source which specifically concentrates on your specific area.

In the end this dispute isn’t about competition or technology or even “life-saving.” This is about money and power. When an agreement is reached (it will be) both DirecTV and The Weather Channel will shut up and play on.

Today it’s a pissing match and unfortunately, in a pissing match everyone gets wet!

6 Responses to “In A Pissing Match Everyone Gets Wet”

  1. Carole says:

    Geoff, I am very surprised that you are reporting on the Weather Channel on your blog. When you were working on WTNH, I emailed you, asking if you ever watch the Weather Channel and you told me you never turned it on. When they recently changed the format for reporting the weather on Local at 8, I didn’t care for it. Now that I’ve watched it a number of times, I am changing my mind. Also the Weather Channel is producing shows that can be aired over & over again.

  2. Jan says:

    Thanks for your observations on the Weather Channel & DirecTV debacle! It will be interesting to watch the situation unfold! BTW, we had thunder and lightening this afternoon in Hamden/North Haven today! I wonder how many times this has happened here in January.

  3. Carole says:

    Have you looked at the weather channels website about DirecTV?

    http://www.keeptheweatherchannel.com/

  4. 793tango says:

    I haven’t watched the Weather Channel in years. I liked it when it first started (as (I did other channels like History, Discovery, A&E, The Learning Channel,AMC, MTV even TVland) but as they ‘grew’ and became more interested in profits over content they changed their programming and grew away from their original core programming. When has anyone seen anything really history related on the History Channel lately? Or anything really arty on A&E? Has anyone really learned anything on TLC (except maybe how banal ‘reality’ tv can be)? MTV should drop ‘music’ from their name and become TTV (Teen TV)since all they do is directed toward teens. And don’t let me get started on AMC.
    I only watch TV for Jeopardy and whenever Mythbusters is on. The rest of the time I have it tuned to music channels (that play realy music).
    For weather I go to my computer.

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