Making WeatherWork for Advertisers

Network pitches new ad-serving technology

The Weather Channel wants to get viewers to tune in longer and form deeper relationships with advertisers. “This is a year of transformation for us,” says David Clark, who joined the company as president just after Superstorm Sandy hit last October.

The Weather Co. was an early mover in digital, with a category-leading website and mobile app. But its cable channel has been hampered by the perception that viewers tune in, get a forecast and then move on. “We need to play to our strengths as a TV network and return to being insanely great at the weather,” says Clark, adding that there are aspects of the weather that an app simply can’t capture.

During the upfront, Weather Channel will be demonstrating its commitment to local forecasts. “That’s in the DNA of the network,” Clark says. “We’re sort of unique in that we have this local content delivery system. But we’re making a number of investments in that and enhancing our capabilities fairly dramatically.”

The channel wants marketers to take advantage of that unique infrastructure, designed to adjust programming and advertising to weather changes. It’s being upgraded to better help advertisers serve the right ad at the right time. “We’re the only people that do that. And marketers are really responding to it,” Clark says.

At the same time, the channel will more strongly encourage marketers to integrate their products into live and primetime programming. “Advertisers are going to see much more holistic opportunities,” Clark adds.

Like cable channels in a variety of genres, Weather Channel will be talking about increasing its original programming in primetime. It plans to launch 20 new series, up from eight this year, doubling its hours of original programming to 120-125.

Clark says the channel is focusing on two types of new shows: science-oriented programming that speaks to the human fascination with the world, and characterdriven unscripted shows with a science twist. “Our character-driven stuff has some science in it, and the science-driven stuff has a lot of character,” he says.

The network will do less lifestyle-type shows in its live and longform programming. Instead, it will aim at a core audience of “weather enthusiasts” who like to do things outdoors and take on the environment. That audience is composed of active consumers.

“This demographic really matters to marketers. They’re affluent, younger, early adopters. And they tend to rely on the weather in making purchase decisions,” Clark says.

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