The Weather Channel is moving back to its live weather roots as it makes several major changes to its lineup, according to CNN.
The 24-hour channel will cut back on its non-weather, non-fiction fare and will concentrate more on delivering live weather content and local weather reports, according to an internal memo obtained by Multichannel News.
As part of the changeover, Dave Shull, the president of the Weather Company's TV division said in the memo that the network will move production of its morning weekday block to Atlanta, eliminating its long-running Wake Up With Al, which will air its last episode Oct. 2. The network also is moving former Good Morning America weathercaster Sam Champion out of its morning programming block at the end of October.
Champion will appear in primetime shows "that highlight the intersection of new technologies and weather," according to the memo. Chamipion will also create editorial content and host on-screen segments as part of TWC's launch of its new “Local Now” product for OTT providers.
TWC also said it was laying off about 50 of the channel’s 1,400 employees, according to CNN.
The Weather Channel cable network has fallen on some hard times recently: It was dropped by Verizon Communications’ FiOS TV service earlier this year and has been an easy target for distributors looking to pare down affiliate-fee costs. According to reports The Weather Channel has also hired investment banker J.P. Morgan to look for a buyer, possibly selling its digital assets and keeping the full distributed network.
In the memo, Shull said that the network is facing “unprecedented challenges” in the subscription television business” and the channels that will survive long term are those with “unique and irreplaceable value.”
A recently released TWC statement on the network revamp reads as follows:
Television is changing, and as a digital company we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on these changes.
To this end, we've restructured our TV division to better align our content production and distribution with a focus on innovative models of storm coverage and strategic new products, such as our soon-to-be-launched OTT service. This shift in focus has resulted in the elimination of some of our programming and positions. As one of the biggest names in weather and television, Sam Champion’s ongoing contributions to the company are invaluable and go beyond the incredible job he and his team have done to develop and run AMHQ. Sam will continue to play a pivotal role in the future success of The Weather Channel as we head into this new era and remain a key leader for us, aiding our efforts to expand weather coverage into our primetime programming and build out our Over The Top (OTT) products.
Viewers turn to The Weather Channel and our experts for the most locally relevant and precise forecast, and for the best live coverage of severe weather events available anywhere on television. In a fragmented world where it’s no longer about scale but about a passionate core following, we recognize the need to be hyper-focused on providing our viewers exactly what they come to us for - weather.
As the most trusted brand in weather, The Weather Channel, with more than 200 meteorologists, will continue to provide our deep expertise to keep consumers safe and informed, anytime and on every screen.
R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.
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