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
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 character-driven 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 long-form 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.