The Weather Channel (TWC) will return to DirecTV's regular lineup after spending several months off the air, now that the two have hashed out an agreement, the terms of which include a moderate increase in TWC's fees and a renewed focus on, well, weather.
The very public dispute between DirecTV and TWC was ostensibly over money -- TWC says it wanted an additional cent per DirecTV subscriber per month, which it didn't get, but according to the Wall Street Journal even the small increase it received to its current 13-cent-per-subscriber rate is a victory:
Any increase marks a retreat for the satellite operator, the second biggest pay-TV company, which serves about 20 million subscribers. DirecTV had wanted to severely reduce the fees it pays Weather Channel, the Journal has previously reported, arguing that consumers were growing more reliant on the Web and mobile devices for weather information.
Representatives from both TWC and DirecTV issued mea culpas for the public standoff. Weather Company CEO David Kenny offered “our apologies to DirecTV and their customers for the disruption of our service and for initiating a public campaign,” adding "our viewers deserve better than a public dispute and we pledge to reward their loyalty with exceptional programming and more weather focused news.” DirecTV chief content officer Dan York said "it's a shame these disputes are played out on a public stage," adding "I know this was frustrating for many of our customers, but their patience was ultimately rewarded with a better deal and a better product."
That last point is a matter of dispute between TWC and DirecTV, it seems. According to Variety, the weather channel will have to scrap half of its weekday reality programming, bring back instant local weather and allow subscribers to watch its vides on multiple devices. The agreement is somewhat surprising considering the channel was poised to invest in more reality programming just last month.Variety reported on March 4:
In a presentation to advertisers Tuesday in preparation for the annual “upfront” advertising market, Weather executives articulated a strategy aimed to deliver not only customized weather forecasts and information but real-life looks at the phenomena of nature and climate... executives also vowed to continue to produce non-fiction series for primetime and Sundays that provide behind-the-scenes looks at extreme weather and the people it might affect.
Apparently, the focus on reality programming has spiked ratings for the channel in the past. During the upfronts, Weather Channel executives introduced for new original series: Tornado Alley (about deadly tornadoes) , Catching Hell (about commercial spearfishing) Now What? (about life post weather disasters) and Wicked in the Weather (about Earth science).
Though TWC's television programming may have upped its ratings, the channel's website has inspired some ridicule for prominently displaying arbitrarily fear-mongery headlines in images. Today, for example the homepage looks like this:
Headlines like "When the Snow Melts, They Find Them Buried... " and "Don't Eat THIS Fish!" are not exactly the stuff of rigorous meteorology, and have inspired Tumblrs like "WTF Weather Channel."
Still, we're sure the 150,000 people who called DirecTV to complain back in January will welcome the return of The Weather Channel, caveats and all.