Weather Touts Its Hometown Advantage

The Weather Channel will offer more locally based, live storm coverage without interrupting its national feed.

The network is utilizing proprietary technology built within most cable-network headends to preempt its national feed within a system’s footprint to provide coverage of severe weather conditions where they are happening, The Weather Channel president David Clark said.

“Everybody knows that we cover the big storms nationally,” he said. “I think what people are less aware of is that we’ve been covering more locallyfocused storms regionally across the country.”

Clark said The Weather Channel is the only cable network able to provide hyper-local content without disturbing the national feed. And Weather hopes such hyper- local capabilities will further differentiate it from such national competitors as Weather Nation, as well as from online rivals that provide local forecasts, like AccuWeather. com and Intellicast.

The hyper-local reports also help Weather silence some critics who’ve chastised it for its gradual move toward reality and non-fiction programming fare during primetime hours.

Weather soft-launched the service in 2014, providing nearly 200 local weather reports last year from Boston to Topeka, Kan. It hopes to almost double that number in 2015.

The technology also delivers the network’s text-based “Local On the 8’s” weather reports. But with more than 220 meteorologists on staff, Weather has the ability to put experts on the air in local markets quickly to provide breaking weather information.

“We have a really unique technology where we can pick a defined area on a map and broadcast to that area,” he said. “This isn’t about an East Coast/West Coast feed … we can tailor it as narrowly as a cabletelevision headend.”

Weather Channel meteorologists make the decision to go with hyper-local telecasts based on local conditions and safety concerns. Most of the network’s reports happen during primetime, when storms are apt to hit.

The local reports have generated a 3% to 5% bump in ratings, Clark said, adding that the network is less concerned about ratings and more focused on delivering breaking weather reports. A cable operator can also request local, live coverage of weather in its market.

The telecasts can run for any duration from one hour to as long as 24 hours without interrupting the network’s national feed.

Clark said the network can insert advertising on the local telecasts through its Weather FX advertising platform, which uses its proprietary data and methods to help marketers deliver targeted, hyper-local, weather-triggered ads. In addition, the network has signed up blue-chip companies like State Farm to advertise in all hyper local weather telecasts, according to Clark.

R. Thomas Umstead

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.