In a new Harris research piece titled “EquiTrend Study,” the Weather Channel won in the category of best TV News. That means it beat out traditional programming from networks from CNN to ABC. It is hard to fathom how this happened.
Perhaps it is because the Weather Channel provides several unique features to people who watch TV news. It is on 24 hours a day. It provides one basic function that a huge portion of the population needs for everything from deciding whether people need umbrellas and checking temperatures to the tracking of dangerous storms.
The Weather Channel audience is huge. According to comScore, it received 53 million unique visitors in February. These came from conduits that range from smartphones to Sirius satellite radio, cable channels and satellite TV.
In a recent deal, the channel’s parent was sold to International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM). In October, the large tech company reported:
IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire The Weather Company’s B2B, mobile and cloud-based web properties, including WSI, weather.com, Weather Underground and The Weather Company brand. The TV segment – The Weather Channel – will not be acquired by IBM, but will license weather forecast data and analytics from IBM under a long-term contract. The combination of technology and expertise from the two companies will serve as the foundation for the new Watson IoT Unit and Watson IoT Cloud platform, building on a $3B commitment made by IBM in March 2015 to invest in related offerings and services.
IBM has touted Watson as its AI unit for several quarters, although the company will not release its financial results.
Being the best does not always come without trouble. Part of the Weather Channel’s key services faces revenue problems. As The Wall Street Journal pointed out, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has dropped the channel from its FiOS TV network. In an article about the broader problem, the paper wrote:
The Weather Channel’s predicament is bringing into stark relief the challenges ahead in the U.S. TV industry for independent channels—even relatively well-known ones—that aren’t part of bigger media conglomerates.
As more consumers “cut the cord,” or drop their pay-TV subscriptions, cable and satellite providers are increasingly looking for ways to reduce their hefty programming expenses—either by paying less for channels or dropping those that they feel their viewers can live without.
Most people who use the Weather Channel for essential information don’t care.
Methodology: The 2016 Harris Poll EquiTrend Study is based on a sample of 97,120 U.S. consumers ages 15 and over surveyed online, in English, between December 22, 2015, and February 1, 2016. The survey took an average of 30 minutes to complete. The total number of brands rated was 3,837.