Posted: 3:19 pm Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

The Weather Channel back on DirecTV April 9 after three-month dispute 

By Rodney Ho

The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore will be back on DirecTV starting April 8. CREDIT: Weather Channel

The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore will be back on DirecTV starting April 8. CREDIT: Weather Channel

DirecTV will return The Weather Channel to the air after a caustic three-month dispute, with the Atlanta-based network agreeing to some concessions.

The Weather Channel is expected to return onto Channel 362 sometime on Wednesday, April 9. A spokeswoman didn’t have the exact time but someone inside the company heard it would be at around 11 a.m.

Off air for 20 million DirecTV customers since mid January, the Weather Channel said it will cut back its reality programs by half on weekdays and allow DirecTV customers to watch the network’s live programming on multiple devices as long as they can prove they are subscribers.

“I was floored,” said Phil Swann, who has tracked the TV technology business for two decades and runs the website tvpredictions.com. “This is unprecedented. This is the first time I’ve seen a TV provider say they don’t like your programming the way it’s constructed and the programmer relenting and changing its lineup. Clearly, the Weather Channel desperately needs those 20 million households.”

Since January, the Weather Channel has already scaled back reality programming in favor of more traditional live weather coverage. It also added a new morning show last month led by former “Good Morning America” weather guy Sam Champion, who moved to Atlanta in December to become the Weather Channel’s managing editor and most prominent face.

In a joint press release, Weather Company CEO David Kenny expressed apologies for its tornado-like public campaign in January. At the time, the network encouraged the public to write their Congressional representatives to complain about DirecTV pulling the channel off its service, alleging this would cause public safety concerns. DirecTV, in response, complained that the Weather Channel was charging too much for its dwindling on-air audience and aired too much non-weather reality shows – up to 40 percent.

Then in full-page advertisements, the two sides argued over how many DirecTV subscribers were leaving because of the situation. The Weather Channel also complained that DirecTV was making it difficult for customers to leave mid-contract without paying stiff penalties. “If DIRECTV truly believes nobody cares about The Weather Channel, then it should have no problem waiving its punishing cancellation fee for those who must change providers,” the ad sniped.

Ultimately, DirecTV has never said if the Weather Channel’s campaign had any tangibly negative impact on them or not.

With the dispute over, the two sides took conciliatory stances in the press release Tuesday:

“Our viewers deserve better than a public dispute and we pledge to reward their loyalty with exceptional programming and more weather focused news,” Kenny said in the release.

Dan York, the DirecTV chief content officer, in the same release, echoed Kenny’s sentiments: “It’s a shame these disputes are played out on a public stage, but I’m pleased that we’ve been able to work together with The Weather Channel in a way that will benefit everyone.”

Financial terms were not disclosed, though the Weather Channel received a small increase but not as much as it had requested, according to the Wall Street Journal. When it cut ties with the Weather Channel, DirecTV was demanding a cut in fees it pays to network, which were estimated to be 13 cents per subscriber per month, according to SNL Kagan, a consulting firm. If the Weather Channel had conceded cuts to DirecTV, it would have had to offer the same lower rates to other carriers, costing the network tens of millions of dollars a year.

Brad Adgate, research director at media services agency Horizon Media, said these types of carrier fee disputes seem to be getting more acrimonious over time. But he’s not sure if this particular battle will have any broader implications since the Weather Channel is a stand-alone operation without a lot of leverage and most cable networks are tied into a larger operation. “Still, it’s not like the Weather Channel was asking for a lot,” he said.

He doubts the Weather Channel’s campaign against DirecTV had much negative impact on DirecTV financially or reputationally. In his mind, too, the Weather Channel needed DirecTV’s 20 million subscribers more than DirecTV needed the Weather Channel.

DirecTV has been using a more modest weather service WeatherNation as a substitute. It will continue to carry that service as well as the Weather Channel.

The Weather Channel’s push in recent years into reality programming such as “Coast Guard Alaska” and “Highway Thru Hell” was to encourage more people to spend more time with the network. Most people only watch for a few minutes at a time. Long-form programming tends to draw more time per viewer but has turned off a lot of hardcore weather fans.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal reported today that DirecTV’s focus on becoming the preferred provider to the Hilton chain may have helped grease the wheels.

 

14 comments
Dman
Dman

I missed Stephanie Abrahms.

FarTrain
FarTrain

Personally I can do without both The WC and DirecTV,  because I recently dumped DTV  for Dish and now have dumped TWC due to Sam Champion.  The guy makes me literally sick to my stomach with his silliness and "weird" looks.  DTV lost me after many years due to a disagreement that would have cost them only $100, and now they are offering me $200 to come back.  Now is that "dumb" or what?

iseestupidpeople
iseestupidpeople

This is just the equivalent of two rich people arguing because one is making more money than the other.

I have Direct TV and have to continually downgrade my package due to increasing fees. I said fees, not rates. HD rec fee, taxes, programming fees and the sort are continually increasing. If Direct TV. Is concerned about content maybe they should get back to the pay TV mode and eliminate all the commercials and infomercial programming they have.

If you ask them about commercial free viewing they tell you to subscribe to HBO or Cinemax, of course for more money.

If I could I would cancel DTV all together. Challenging another programmer over costs is a bit like the pot calling kettle black.

KeepinItSimple
KeepinItSimple

I love it.  I don't even use DirectTV but I appreciate what they are doing here.  TWC tried to use social media to pressure them with ridiculous hate mongering.  They did the same thing to the Atlanta public after people didn't notice they changed the forecast just before Snowjam 14.  It's always someone else fault with these people.

Kudo's to DirecTV for refusing to pay more (which would have led to higher subscription rates), and for telling TWC to knock off the cheap programming re-runs and get back to what they are supposed to be doing. 

Too bad DirecTV wasn't around when MTV forgot they were about MUSIC TELEVISION!  MTV pretty much started this reality craze that permeates cable TV with a stench that will take decades to wash away.

ScottCason
ScottCason

How bout that. I never new TWC had been taken off.

Andy123
Andy123

HaHa

TWC sucks and had to make concessions including dialing back on those horrific reality shows.  

AHH1116
AHH1116

Thank Goodness The Weather Channel Will Be Back - I am pleased the viewers will now have a choice and I will pick The Weather Channel!!!! The other channel is horrible! I have depended on the weather channel for many many years and was very unhappy when they were taken away from me - again- I am thrilled they will be back! 

Hodor
Hodor

I've gotten used to WeatherNation.  I think I'll stay with them.  I did not miss The Weather Channel at all.
It seems crazy for DirecTV to carry both.

anothercomment
anothercomment

I have missed Jim Cantore. I first met him in 1983 when we both moved to Atlanta fresh out of college. He is really a great everyday guy. Was part of the original hard core group of exerciser sat sports life, at Akers Mill. Before Crunch came in any tried unsuccessfully to cancel all the old memberships. Crunch finally succeeded in putting themselves out of business at the original Sportslife clubs. Jim was truly one of the nice guy members of the group who worked out their over 20 years. He was the same the day I met him in 1983 or 84 and the same when he was the famous nationwide weather reporter risking his life in the middle of storms.

chc4
chc4

I haven't missed Weather Channel one bit. AccuWeather is just as good minus all the silly shock and awe weather shows.

alpha001
alpha001

@KeepinItSimple I remember TWC trying to act like they had been right about Snowjam.  I was working from home that morning and had TWC the whole day, never one mention that it would get bad and people should stay home. As far as the new program w/ Champion, I change the channel from 7-10am.  I don't watch the morning programs on the network for a reason and I do watch TWC for a reason and it's not to watch a talk show.

BannedPoster
BannedPoster

@AHH1116  horrible?  Really?  Weather Nation is nothing more than what the Weather Channel used to be and that is constant weather updates and forecasts.  It is also what former viewers of the Weather Channel like myself want out of a weather network.  If I wanted to watch reality TV, I would tune into Bravo, TLC, TruTV, etc..  I know a Weather Channel employee when I see one and you sound like it.  

GivenstLA
GivenstLA

@alpha001 @KeepinItSimple  This is totally inaccurate.  Maybe you're confused, but I can help you recall the facts.  The storm hit at about 2:30 PM Tuesday, which is exactly how TWC said it would come down.  And they were making that prediction a full day ahead of time because we made the decision on Monday at about 1 pm to stay home the next day.  The 10 day forecast included snow/ice at 2 pm Tues on the phone app and was the same forecast as the one, of course, they were projecting on TV and other parts of their web site.


We are, as a result, very thankful to TWC as we were able to make a decision that helped avoid the disaster that sadly caught so many others either off-guard or unprepared.  


The National Weather Service, I think, made this projection at about 4 am on Tuesday and that's the projection that local authorities used - again, I believe this is accurate.


But as for TWC's forecast - totally spot-on and you should do some real research or get your facts straight before you make statements like your first one above.  Maybe it was the local TV stations you were watching?