TWC Forecasts Perfect 'StormWeek'

Picking up on Discovery Channel's popular "Shark Week" and Travel Channel's "Beach Week," The Weather Channel is urging affiliates to link up with its forthcoming "StormWeek."

StormWeek is the umbrella title for four new primetime specials to air each night at 9 p.m. from June 4 through 7. The one-hour shows will focus on such topics as tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards and "the world's worst weather."

"I'm sure next year it'll be five days," TWC executive vice president of marketing Steve Schiffman said last week.

TWC's Web site will provide related information and activities that same week.

Like Discovery's longstanding Shark Week and Travel's more recent Beach Week, the programming stunt is intended as an annual event designed to boost ratings. (Shark Week's 14th outing is set for August, while Travel's third Beach Week will run March 4 to 10.)

The stunt fits into TWC's overall scheme to increase both appointment viewing and affiliate promotion support, Schiffman said.

In a promotional piece sent to affiliates, TWC explained why storms were selected to anchor the programming stunt. Consumer research conducted last December among 197 viewers ages 25 to 54 showed that "nearly 80 percent of The Weather Channel primetime viewers want to see storms at their worst," the network said.

StormWeek will be supported by a multifaceted "Eye of the Storm Getaway" affiliate promotional tie-in from May 7 through June 7.

That effort will be similar to the one that backed the network's "Win By It! Live By It!" tie-in for its Atmospheres
newsmagazine last summer. Nearly 700 affiliates joined in for the Atmospheres
promotion, reaching 50 million homes or 64 percent of the TWC subscriber base.

Although the enrollment deadline for Getaway is April 20, the network will try to encourage early signups by offering a "Calm Before the Storm" weekend vacation through a random drawing open to all "early-bird" operators who commit by March 9.

Through last Tuesday, TWC had signed on 144 affiliates reaching 10.7 million subscribers, Schiffman said. Comcast has committed and AT&T Broadband is "very interested," he said.

The network late last month sent out solicitation kits to its affiliates, which announced that the top national prize will be a five-day vacation in Key West, Fla. Each participating system also gets a weekend getaway Marriott Hotels vacation trip, a digital camera and a travel bag. All of those items can be offered as a sweepstakes prize, internal incentive or community-relations effort.

Participation kits will be mailed to affiliates by mid-March. They'll include co-branded StormWeek tune-in promotion spots, radio scripts and CSR training scripts, as well as sweepstakes point-of-sale materials, ballot boxes and customizable promos and ad slicks.

Participating affiliates will be asked to run 200 taggable spots for StormWeek, plus another 200 that support the Getaway promotion.

The promos must run from May 24 through June 7, between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., on 10 TWC-selected networks, such as A&E Network, Cable News Network, Discovery Channel, ESPN, Lifetime and Home & Garden Television.