AccuWeather to launch 24/7 TV station

bmilazzo@centredaily.comJanuary 14, 2014 

As early as midsummer, weather enthusiasts could be viewing the AccuWeather Channel, a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week television network.

AccuWeather announced that it will launch the channel from its Ferguson Township headquarters.

The announcement came after DirecTV dropped The Weather Channel on Monday after the two entities failed to come to an agreement over fees, according to The Associated Press.

Joel N. Myers, founder and president of AccuWeather, said launching a television weather network is a way to enhance the company’s services while creating competition.

“There is room for more than one weather news channel,” Myers said. “It’s competition, so some cable channels and Internet companies have the option to carry AccuWeather instead.”

AccuWeather has not announced its partners, and Myers declined to comment when asked what cable or satellite providers the channel would be aired on.

“AccuWeather is available by Internet, mobile and has become the No. 1 source of weather globally … and serves the public by way of radio, TV stations and newspapers,” Myers said. “The one component we were missing is a television weather channel.”

AccuWeather provides weather services to 175,000 clients worldwide and has a viewership of more than 1 billion. It serves 200 television stations, 760 radio stations and 600 newspapers, said spokesman Justin Roberti.

Myers said creating a 24/7 weather channel has been in the works for more than a year, but he would not provide further details of the planning process or how many additional employees would be hired.

“We’re the ones developing it and determine the content,” Myers said.

If AccuWeather wants to be successful, Steve Kraycik, director of student television at Penn State, said it should focus more on localized weather, and less on reality-based weather-related shows.

“I think it’s possible to be successful, but there is a crowded landscape with The Weather Channel and networks doing weather, and a lot of local outlets that already have that push,” Kraycik said. “It’s an interesting venture that will be creating competition. The Weather Channel is facing criticism. Its programming is turning toward reality-based programming with weather ties, but is facing criticism for turning away from localized weather programming. There are so many outlets where you can get weather. But if AccuWeather can really focus on local forecast and local weather details with experts who take the public through forecasting and with advertising dollars to help support it as a 24-hour outlet, then it can be successful.”

David Blumenthal, the Weather Channel’s senior director of corporate communications, said: “We are not concerned with competitors new or old. We are confident that fulfilling our mission, to focus on the science, safety and storytelling behind all aspects of weather will enable us to remain the leader in weather. We know that with something as serious as weather, experience and expertise matters. With more than 220 meteorologists and more than 30 years of experience, no network has more resources dedicated to covering the weather. There is simply no substitute.”

AccuWeather said the new channel will focus on helping people make better decisions in planning to improve life and safety.

“It will provide highly localized and customized forecasts and will round out AccuWeather’s suite of services to the public,” the statement said. “The new AccuWeather Channel will be streamed on AccuWeather.com and other Internet sites, as well as through media partner affiliate mobile and Internet sites and is expected to be available through cable and satellite carriers.”

“This is just weather programming with an extreme local focus,” Myers added. “We aim at improving safety and allowing people to plan their lives better and operate their businesses better.”

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.

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