It was a year ago October 25 that Fox Weather, a 24/7 multiplatform weather channel from Fox News Media, launched. Free and ad supported, Fox Weather has had an eventful year, never more eventful than when Hurricane Ian struck Florida late last month. Sharri Berg, Fox Weather president, said the extreme event resulted in "the awareness of Fox Weather increasing exponentially."
"The most important part of it, for us, was hearing and seeing viewers who had lost power, who had downloaded our app and got all the alerts, all the latest editorial, the constantly live information," she said. "They also had the ability to watch the continuous live stream on their phone or iPad."
Fox Weather broadcasted live for 45 straight hours, Berg said. "We knew how big the story would be, and we were prepared," she added.
Fox Weather launched October 25, 2021, with veteran meteorologist Amy Freeze on board, along with Marissa Torres, Nick Kosir and Ian Oliver, among many other weather figures. Reporting also comes from Fox Television Stations, which has 28 stations in 17 markets. Live programming consists of morning, afternoon and evening shows, hosted by meteorologists.
As it launched, Fox Weather aimed to stand out in the crowded weather space by offering users and viewers a more personalized experience. "Our storytelling, our connection, our relatability with our audience is a big driver for us," said Berg.
With Fox News and Fox Television Stations as cornerstones, Fox Weather is well equipped when weather becomes headline news. "We are the national weather organization that has roots in news," Berg said. "We're built from news."
When Hurricane Ian hit Florida September 28, Fox Weather's simulcast from 1-4 a.m. averaged 552,000 viewers.
Bryan Norcross, Fox Weather hurricane specialist, was a key player during Ian. Berg called him "the thread guiding us through a lot of the coverage." As Norcross was peppered with questions from concerned residents in Ian's path on social platforms, he helmed a Facebook Live segment, and Fox Weather carried it too. "People were in harm's way and they looked to connect with us for that expertise," said Berg. "And we ended up doing the simulcast."
During the storm, Fox Weather peaked as a top 25 free app in Apple's App Store.
Fox Weather continues to grow, including distribution. Berg mentioned Fox Weather evolving from something a user primarily watches on their phone to more of a big-screen, living room play. Earlier this year, it partnered with Verizon FiOS, YouTube TV, Amazon News, The Roku Channel, fuboTV and Xumo, among others. The owned stations also air the stream on digital channels.
More partners are coming. "We continue on our ubiquitous distribution journey," said Berg.
And so the new network's sophomore season begins. "Someone asked me recently when Fox Weather will move from startup mode to the next level," said Berg. "My answer was, hopefully never." ■
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.