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AccuWeather Forecast Calls for Big Data

IBM’s decision to acquire The Weather Co.’s data and digital assets in a deal The Wall Street Journal valued at more than $2 billion highlights the growing value of such properties — and rival AccuWeather also hopes to capitalize on that value as it works to gain more distribution for its fledgling channel.

AccuWeather had already accumulated 50 years of weather-forecasting experience before it launched the AccuWeather Network on Verizon’s FiOS TV this past March. It is a major supplier of forecasting systems and graphics to broadcasters, and has an impressive digital business.

AccuWeather has long been a multiplatform player with a focus on “innovations that make sure we are able to convey superior accuracy in weather forecasting,” John Dokes, general manager of AccuWeather Network and chief marketing officer of AccuWeather, said. It strives to create “flexible products that will help people personalize the weather,” he added.

That has paid off in some impressive growth this year, according to Dokes. In August, use of the company’s AccuWeather apps grew by 69% among active iOS users and 39% among active Android users. Use of the mobile website is up 18% year-to-date from 2014, he added.

Overall, AccuWeather supplies weather data to about 1.5 billion people per day in more than 100 languages and dialects, Dokes said.

Some of the mobile growth reflects the growing importance of smartphones, Dokes said. “But it also shows how we’ve continued to invest in our products and provide new innovative solutions that have kept us on the forefront of mobile usage,” he added.

To build on that, AccuWeather has launched a number of new products, most recently the AccUcast feature on its app. AccUcast uses interactive crowdsourcing capabilities to provide live weather conditions for much more specific locales and lets viewers see those reports on an interactive map.

“We want to make sure that people have access to minute-by-minute forecasts based on precise locations with products like MinuteCast, which can tell you that it will start raining in 23 minutes and that it will rain for 25 minutes after that,” Dokes said.