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Weather Channel Sets Sights on Series

Having weathered a relatively quiet storm season, executives at The Weather Channel are hopeful that two recently launched series will garner an uptick in viewership going into the cold and blustery winter months.

Ratings for both Sunday-afternoon environmental show The Climate Code With Dr. Heidi Cullen and primetime news series Beyond the Forecast are on par with the network's expectations nearly two months into their respective launches, according to Weather Channel senior vice president of programming Terry Connelly.

Since launching Oct. 1, Climate Code, the network's first show dedicated to global warming and the environment, averaged a 0.22 household rating through Nov. 26, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

The show's ratings have steadily increased since its premiere, with the Nov. 26 episode generating a 0.35 rating, said network officials.

Connelly said the numbers are good considering that the show is more targeted than anything on the network.

“It's not a broad-appeal show, but it's helping to raise the profile of The Weather Channel in the scientific community, as well as [among] viewers that have a passionate interest in the environment,” Connelly said. “We think the potential for it is really, really big, because we believe the content is important.”

Debuting Sept. 25, Beyond the Forecast, a talk-show style weather program that features meteorologists Stephanie Abrams and Mike Bettes, has averaged a 0.23 rating weeknights at 8 p.m. through Nov. 24, slightly below Weather's 0.25 time slot average since 2000, according to officials.

While Connelly said the show's ratings are meeting expectations, he noted that Beyond The Forecast has suffered from a lack of major storms around the country, which has limited sampling among casual viewers. The U.S. mainland suffered through very active hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005, punctuated by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina a year ago.

“The show isn't benefiting from the sampling the network has received over the past couple of years, because there haven't been a lot of active weather systems around the country,” he said.

The upcoming winter season could change that. Connelly said he expects an increase in viewership for both shows as more viewers stay indoors during the cold weather months of January and February.

In an effort to boost ratings, Connelly also said the channel will look to create stunts for both Forecast and Climate Code. Special event episodes slated for Beyond the Forecast include “Jobs Worth Weathering,” a five-part series beginning this week, examining weather-related occupations.

As for Climate Code, Connelly said the network will present a special on the top climate and environment stories of the year in late December.

“We're looking for themes that will set the shows apart and generate some audience sampling,” he said.

In other news, the network will bring back It Could Happen Tomorrow for a second season, starting in February.