The Weather Channel tightening focus - FOX 35 News Orlando

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>>

  • LL Cool J stays true to hip hop roots

    LL Cool J stays true to hip hop roots

    Friday, August 1 2014 10:38 PM EDT2014-08-02 02:38:22 GMT
    EXCLUSIVE -- LL Cool J grew and evolved from a hip hop artist out of Hollis, Queens, to a Hollywood TV and movie star. But he always stayed true to hip hop culture. We'd see him backstage at concerts just hanging out with us, so when I heard he was back in New York for the summer I had to find out why. I tracked him down to a Midtown Manhattan recording studio for this exclusive interview.
    EXCLUSIVE -- LL Cool J grew and evolved from a hip hop artist out of Hollis, Queens, to a Hollywood TV and movie star. But he always stayed true to hip hop culture. We'd see him backstage at concerts just hanging out with us, so when I heard he was back in New York for the summer I had to find out why. I tracked him down to a Midtown Manhattan recording studio for this exclusive interview.
  • Friday Night Live: August 1, 2014

    Friday Night Live: August 1, 2014

    Friday, August 1 2014 10:28 PM EDT2014-08-02 02:28:04 GMT
    This is Fox 5's Friday Night Live, a weekly celebration of the end of the work week. All summer long, the Fox 5 team brings you the latest in entertainment, nightlife, food, and music in our area. In this jam-packed episode: an exclusive interview with superstar LL Cool J, a helicopter tour over New York City, dishing on celebrity relationships, and sexier breakfast with Chef Mark Bailey.
    This is Fox 5's Friday Night Live, a weekly celebration of the end of the work week. All summer long, the Fox 5 team brings you the latest in entertainment, nightlife, food, and music in our area. In this jam-packed episode: an exclusive interview with superstar LL Cool J, a helicopter tour over New York City, dishing on celebrity relationships, and sexier breakfast with Chef Mark Bailey.
  • Central Park underwear run

    Central Park underwear run

    Friday, August 1 2014 10:16 PM EDT2014-08-02 02:16:48 GMT
    Raw athleticism streaked through Central Park Friday evening bared for a modest body of spectators. Two-hundred triathletes ran a skimpy 1.7-mile loop in their underwear to flesh out the opening festivities of New York City Triathlon weekend.Midriffs and tan lines rippled in the open air and a not-so-tighty finish saw the first male and the first female finishers undress the course in record time.
    Raw athleticism streaked through Central Park Friday evening bared for a modest body of spectators. Two-hundred triathletes ran a skimpy 1.7-mile loop in their underwear to flesh out the opening festivities of New York City Triathlon weekend.Midriffs and tan lines rippled in the open air and a not-so-tighty finish saw the first male and the first female finishers undress the course in record time.
Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices