The Weather Channel is now an independent television network again and is providing more services than some would expect.
According to the website Adweek, the Atlanta-based network’s product and technology businesses were acquired by computer giant IBM, after closing the deal today. This deal leaves The Weather Channel as a separate entity and under a long-term contract, the Armonk, New York-based company, will provide the network with weather forecast data and analytics under license.
The Weather Company’s digital assets include weather.com, Weather Underground, and WSI, a service that provides clients with forecasts from local TV stations. It also provides the forecasts to commodity traders and government agencies according to Adweek. The deal between the two companies was first announced in October, 2015.
According to Dave Shull, the CEO of Weather Channel Television Network, the cable channel will still be owned by Bain Capital, Blackstone, and NBC Universal, the network’s existing shareholders.
“The Weather Channel operates as a distinct and separate business with its own leadership team, which enables this to be a smooth and seamless transition,” said Shull in a statement, at the time of the announcement. “We believe a bright future lies ahead for the television business as the most trusted source of weather information.”
IBM released a press release on January 29, announcing the new venture, which expands both IBM’s Watson loT Cloud platform and The Weather Company’s “enterprise services capabilities and consumer reach to a global scale.” The two companies also plan to bring the weather.com website to new major markets including China, India, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico. Their goal over the next three years, is to increase the global user base by hundreds of millions.
“The Weather Company’s extremely high-volume data platform, coupled with IBM Cloud and the advanced cognitive computing capabilities of Watson, is unsurpassed in the Internet of Things,” said John E. Kelly, senior vice president of IBM’s cognitive solutions and research.
Kelly continued, “This rich platform provides our clients significant competitive advantage as they link their business and sensor data with weather and other pertinent information in real-time.”
The press release also mentioned that Cameron Clayton will lead The Weather Company and it will become a part of IBM’s Data and Analytics Platform business unit.
In a memo to the staff, Dave Shull said that viewers now have the ability to access exclusively local, real-time weather, as well as news, traffic, and sports content, surprisingly, through the recently launched service Local Now. The other assets now include the main The Weather Channel network and the weather-related product WeatherScan.
“We have heightened focus on innovation, first-class storm coverage and hyper-localized weather information available through our various TV platforms,” said Shull, who said that the channels will still provide the expertise from their meteorologists that viewers want.
Shull dubbed The Weather Channel as “unique and necessary avenue of programming.”
Matt Kempner, a writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution claims that IBM bought The Weather Channel’s digital assets mainly for its data and forecasting power to help businesses handle what he calls “one of their biggest variables: weather.”
“Yeah, I know: weather forecasting doesn’t have a perfect batting average,” said Kempner. “But with millions or hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, businesses may pay more for even modest improvements in the accuracy and localization of weather predictions.”
Back in October, 2015, Dave Shull said that almost half of the households in America watch The Weather Channel network for daily forecasts, severe weather coverage, and what he calls “the science behind the weather.”
“With our world class weather experts and thousands of localized versions of the network, we are uniquely positioned to provide the world’s best storm coverage as a hyper-local streaming service as well,” said Shull.
[Photo by Kevin Wolf/AP Images for The Weather Channel]