Programming

UPFRONT & CENTER: The Weather Channel Touts Multiplatform Power

Cable Network, Web Site Reach More than 119M Unique Visitors per Month; TWC Mobile Draws 6.3M 3/13/2008 03:50:00 AM Eastern

New York -- During its upfront presentation to media buyers here Thursday night, The Weather Channel forecast a higher-resolution summer -- the network will begin broadcasting from its new HD studio in June -- and touted its reach and relevance to viewers as a multiplatform source of weather news and information.

weather.com

While TWC was here to make a case for advertising on its broadcast, broadband and mobile properties, some of the data it presented pointed directly to the $4 billion-$5 billion valuation some Wall Street analysts placed on the company since parent Landmark Communications announced that it was for sale.

According to Nielsen Fusion data, TWC and its Web site, weather.com, reach more than 119 million unique, unduplicated consumers per month, surpassing the reach of any other cable news brand, including CNN and CNN.com, which had 118 million, and Fox News Channel and FOXNews.com, which had 95 million.

Weather.com has 39 million unique monthly users online, and the network also provides the No. 1 mobile-content Web site, The Weather Channel Mobile, which averaged 6.3 million monthly unique users in 2007. The mobile site recently added video forecasts and will debut an associated ad product early in the second quarter.

“By far, we’re the strongest cross-platform media property that exists,” president and CEO Debora Wilson said.

Advertising on TWC and its new-media properties is more effective, said Paul Iaffaldano, executive vice president and general manager of sales arm TWC Media Solutions, because consumers tuning into the cable network or clicking onto the Web site are coming with a purpose: to find the latest forecast. That leads to better recall of advertising messages, some 30% higher than recall on other cable networks.

“When people come to us, they’re in remember mode,” Iaffaldano added.

Chris Raleigh, the network’s new VP of ad sales, described WeatherREADY, a new advertiser-integrated, multiplatform program that will provide viewers with weather safety and preparedness information; and WeatherQUEST, a consumer initiative designed to help people plan outdoor recreation and fitness activities.

WeatherQUEST will present runners with training trips to help them get ready for the

first-ever The Weather Channel Marathon, to be held Nov. 27 in Atlanta.

Wilson seemed most excited about the network’s $60 million initiative to build a new HD plant in Atlanta. After launching some primetime fare in HD last fall, TWC should begin broadcasts from its new HD studio June 2 and transition completely to HD by year-end.

The wide-screen format and high resolution of HD will allow TWC to present more in-depth forecast information and more compelling graphics and on-the-scene video, which Wilson believes will translate to higher ratings.

“In HD, the sun will be hotter, the snow will be colder and the wind will blow harder,” she added.

For complete coverage of the upfronts, click here.

March