The Weather Channel Now Dark on DirecTVParties Can't Bridge Rate Differences as Contract Expired at Midnight 1/14/2014 12:38 AM Eastern
With the expiration of their contract, The Weather Channel is no longer available on DirecTV.
According to the programmer, the disconnect occurred at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Jan. 13. It follows the extension the parties had reached late last year, as their contract was originally set to conclude on Dec. 31, 2013. The Weather Channel had been the most widely distributed linear cable network with some 100 million subscribers; that total is reduced by some 20 million sans carriage on DirecTV. Although a joint venture of investment firms Blackstone Group and Bain Capital and NBCUniversal, The Weather Channel doesn't benefit from the negotiating leverage that comes from being part of Comcast's programming arm.
On Monday afternoon, Jennifer Dangar, The Weather Co.'s president of distribution and business development, said that DirecTV’s offer on Jan. 10 called for the programmer to take a double-digit rate decrease. She said that The Weather Channel has always pursued reasonable rates.
DirecTV, in addition, to looking to keep its cost in line, pointed to long-form fare occupying 40% of Weather Channel’s schedule, as well as the availability of weather information from other sources as reasons why it was looking to lower its outlay. The DBS leader also recently launched WeatherNation, a smaller, lesser-known network directly next to The Weather Channel on its lineup.
The Weather Co. chairman and CEO David Kenny issued the following statement early Tuesday morning: “This is unprecedented for The Weather Channel. In our 32 years, we have never had a significant disruption due to a failure to reach a carriage agreement. We offered DirecTV the best rate for our programming, and I am shocked they have put corporate profits ahead of keeping a trusted channel that subscribers rely on every day. We are not looking for a large fee increase. We are simply looking for a fair deal that allows our company to continue to invest in the science and technology that enables us to keep people safe, deliver the world’s best weather, and tell weather stories to help people be prepared and informed.
“At a time when DirecTV has increased customer rates by 4 percent, they are trading safety for increased profits and replacing the experience and expertise of The Weather Channel with a cheap startup that does weather forecasting on a three-hour taped loop, has no field coverage, no weather experts -- certainly not any on par with The Weather Channel network’s industry-recognized experts like tornado expert Dr. Greg Forbes and winter weather expert Tom Niziol -- and no experience in severe weather emergencies. This is a dangerous gamble over one penny a month that puts DirecTV customers at risk."
DirecTV chief content officer Dan York issued the following statement: "The Weather Channel has removed its service from DirecTV, and while that's regrettable, DirecTV will continue to provide its customers with what they've been asking for, around-the-clock, 100% weather news and information now available on WeatherNation."
"Consumers understand there are now a variety of other ways to get weather coverage, free of reality show clutter, and that The Weather Channel does not have an exclusive on weather coverage – the weather belongs to everyone," York added. "Most consumers don't want to watch a weather information channel with a forecast of a 40% chance of reality TV. So with that in mind, we are in the process of discussing an agreement to return the network to our line-up at the right value for our customers."