The Weather Channel's own Web site, weather.com, is known to millions as a way to get quick updates on weather conditions. But, if it's broadband-delivered localized video forecasts that viewers want, The Weather Channel sends them elsewhere, to Yahoo! Platinum, AOL Broadband and, as of last week, RealNetworks.
"We see us building more relationships over time," says Jody Fennell, Weather Channel vice president, broadband and mobile services. "It's really expensive to produce video content for the Web compared to producing it for the cable channel, and there hasn't been a very compelling revenue case for it until today."
Each day meteorologists Eboni Deon and Paul Emmick shoot 75 local weather forecasts applicable to 80% of the nation and another nine regional forecasts for the remaining 20%. It takes about three hours to shoot all of them, but Fennell says the network expects to offer more than one forecast per market per day sooner rather than later. The meteorologists create other broadband-delivered products as well, including Extreme Weather and national forecasts.
Each local clip is about a minute long. People with broadband connections are more tolerant of longer clips, Fennell notes, adding, though, that it's still a good idea to keep them as brief as possible. "We don't want to lose people."
The streaming service means two extra revenue sources for Weather Channel. It gets a cut of the subscription revenue, and advertising support, particularly broadband-delivered video clips, is beginning to catch on, Fennell says. "Advertisers are starting to be attracted to broadband video advertising," Fennell says. "We're excited about that, but we still see this as something that will have dual revenue streams."
Helping build those dual streams is that the streaming services are used primarily in an office environment. "Most people don't have access to the Weather Channel in their office," she notes. "This also gives them the ability to manipulate the product as opposed to just having it streamed at you from the cable network. They can proactively seek out information as opposed to passively absorbing it."
The clips are sent out in the streaming format the subscription service requests. Content for weather.com is handled by streaming provider Akamai.