The Weather Channel tightening focus - New York News

The Weather Channel tightening focus

Posted: Updated:

By DAVID BAUDER

NEW YORK (AP) — The Weather Channel is trying a novel approach to turn around some flagging ratings: It is reemphasizing weather.

As part of a redesign that debuted this week, viewers will be able to see their local forecasts on-screen whenever they tune in, even during commercials. The NBC Universal-owned network is also increasing its capacity to cast aside regular programming during severe weather conditions.

"Think of it as the ESPN for weather," said David Clark, network president.

Effectively, The Weather Channel is trying to have it both ways by reengaging the weather nerds and not abandoning shows that offer more than a forecast. The network began introducing longer-form programs like "Storm Stories" a few years ago for the same business reason that MTV largely stopped playing videos — to encourage viewers to hang around for more than a few minutes at a time.

The strategy risked alienating longtime fans like Tony Kornheiser of ESPN, who would much rather see colorful weather maps and meteorologist Jim Cantore standing outside in the wind and rain.

"I stayed until a few years ago when I got the sense they were programming a television network and not giving the weather anymore," Kornheiser said.

The Weather Channel has averaged 210,000 viewers over the past year and 284,000 during the morning hours that represent its peak viewing period, the Nielsen company said. Those are the lowest averages in the past five years; in 2011 the network averaged 271,000 viewers for the full day and 362,000 in the morning.

The channel is now turning over about a third of its screen to constantly shifting weather information, including hour-by-hour forecasts for a viewer's local area and a crawl that offers weather highlights from across the country. On its high-definition channel, additional information like tides, sunrise and sunset, average temperatures and airport delays are displayed.

Designers tried to pack in the information without the screen looking too busy. The channel has also redesigned its regular, more detailed local forecast, shown every 10 minutes.

Some of the network's biggest ratings come when a big snowstorm is bearing down on the East Coast or a hurricane is ready to make landfall, newsworthy events that are covered full-time.

Now, The Weather Channel will be able to localize such specialized coverage: if severe weather is threatening the Midwest, for example, the channel in those areas will follow it full-time while other parts of the country will stay in regular programming. Clark said this might happen some 100 to 150 days of the year.

"That's just an estimate," he said. "Weather is unpredictable."

The Weather Channel is not abandoning its long-form programming, but is trying to make these shows more focused on science and the weather so they don't seem like they could be on any other channel, Clark said. He cited "Iron Men," a series about construction workers on high-rise buildings, as one that didn't work because it didn't fit the brand. Better fitting the new direction is "Freaks of Nature," a show about people with unusual abilities to withstand the elements.

The Weather Channel has some 220 meteorologists on staff and needs to better tap their passion, he said.

"We're entering a phase where we're trying to be very disciplined about the brand," he said.

___

Online:

http://www.weather.com/

___

EDITOR'S NOTE — David Bauder can be reached at dbauder@ap.org or on Twitter@dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • 8 things to do in August

    8 things to do in August

    Friday, August 1 2014 10:16 AM EDT2014-08-01 14:16:28 GMT

    July came and went in the blink of an eye, or squint since the sun was so bright. As you dwell on the memories of 4th of July, weekends at the beach, nights at the ballpark and a good amount of warm weather, August is going to be another month to make more memories. Restaurant Week is still going on as well as SummerStage, but there is so much more happening in August. Here's a list of 8 things you can do in  New York throughout the month of August.

    July came and went in the blink of an eye, or squint since the sun was so bright. As you dwell on the memories of 4th of July, weekends at the beach, nights at the ballpark and a good amount of warm weather, August is going to be another month to make more memories. Restaurant Week is still going on as well as SummerStage, but there is so much more happening in August. Here's a list of 8 things you can do in  New York throughout the month of August.

  • Expert: 'Mini tornado' caused skydiver death

    Expert: 'Mini tornado' caused skydiver death

    Friday, August 1 2014 10:09 AM EDT2014-08-01 14:09:20 GMT
    A safety expert for a national skydiving association says a "mini tornado" caused the accident that killed a correction officer and injured his instructor during a tandem jump.
    A safety expert for a national skydiving association says a "mini tornado" caused the accident that killed a correction officer and injured his instructor during a tandem jump.
  • Man arrested for road rage shooting

    Man arrested for road rage shooting

    Friday, August 1 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-08-01 13:15:13 GMT
    An upstate man is under arrest after police say he opened fire on another driver on I-84.The New York State Police say that Masey Moshref, 26, of Wappinger Falls faces a slew of felony charges after the Wednesday evening incident.At approximately 6:28 p.m., police received a 911 call from a driver who said a man driving a green Honda Accord bearing California license plates pulled alongside of his vehicle and displayed a black handgun.The victim says the man fired one shot at his vehicle, str...
    An upstate man is under arrest after police say he opened fire on another driver on I-84.The New York State Police say that Masey Moshref, 26, of Wappinger Falls faces a slew of felony charges after the Wednesday evening incident.At approximately 6:28 p.m., police received a 911 call from a driver who said a man driving a green Honda Accord bearing California license plates pulled alongside of his vehicle and displayed a black handgun.The victim says the man fired one shot at his vehicle, str...
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices