Comcast Writes Down Value of Weather Channel by $250 Million

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Apr 4, 2006
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Guy, Arkansas
www.weather4ar.org
More likely $86.00
Actually, that's being generous. If they would have stayed with their original format, and not gone crazy with the glitzy reality eco-nonsense, they would be so much better off. The techno gadgetry of today is far better suited to their brand of weather news & information, but, if what you really need to know a forecast, or where the severe storms are going to be, you're much better off with a NOAA Weather Radio, the local Broadcast Mets, or WeatherNation. The internet has a lot of better sources than weather.com.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
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Damon - I'm not sure I follow... You're saying TWC is worthless financially because there are other sources of weather? That seems strange since they make a lot of money from non-weather content.
 
Jan 14, 2011
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St. Louis
stormhighway.com
TWC wouldn't survive 3 months doing weather the way they used to. Neither will any channel that tries to focus on weather alone. The problem is the demographic of the average American has changed to the short-attention span, entertain-me lowest-common-denominator. Today, to get a viewer, you have to somehow get people to look up from their Facebook or Candy Crush for 5 seconds, which is near impossible unless you employ every low gimmick in the book to appeal to people's basest impulses. We may shake our heads at what TV has become, but it's largely us that is to blame. Every channel that is still profitable has had to do the same things to stay around. Quality TV mostly died once the smartphone and social media came along to lower the collective intelligence of this country. Sadly, I think it's only going to get worse.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
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Every time someone comes along that tries to do just weather - they die off. Look at WeatherNation -- nobody watches, and when they do they quickly realize it's all taped stuff so not even live to begin with. To make fun of TWC for getting away from "real weather" doesn't make sense given their business model (and their massive success financially. $86 million is still a lot of dollars :) )
 

Warren Faidley

Supporter
May 7, 2006
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Mos Isley Space Port
www.stormchaser.com
TWC wouldn't survive 3 months doing weather the way they used to. Neither will any channel that tries to focus on weather alone. The problem is the demographic of the average American has changed to the short-attention span, entertain-me lowest-common-denominator. Today, to get a viewer, you have to somehow get people to look up from their Facebook or Candy Crush for 5 seconds, which is near impossible unless you employ every low gimmick in the book to appeal to people's basest impulses. We may shake our heads at what TV has become, but it's largely us that is to blame. Every channel that is still profitable has had to do the same things to stay around. Quality TV mostly died once the smartphone and social media came along to lower the collective intelligence of this country. Sadly, I think it's only going to get worse.
Very well said. I don't see TWC lasting much longer on cable, or anywhere. Information via "cable" is fading fast. Soon, everything will be Internet based. There are a host of Internet based weather resources, much better positioned for professional forecasts than TWC. For example, when I'm chasing major hurricanes I watch live local television coverage on my laptop, not Jim Contorte trying to survive 30 mph winds. I think the biggest nail in the coffin for TWC is their branding and trust.
 
Apr 4, 2006
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Guy, Arkansas
www.weather4ar.org
Damon - I'm not sure I follow... You're saying TWC is worthless financially because there are other sources of weather? That seems strange since they make a lot of money from non-weather content.
I never said they were worthless financially. If you want "weathertainment" watch TWC. If you want real weather, watch your local TV Stations and listen to NWR, or use a different internet source. Unfortunately, TWC's programming, albeit financially profitable, is what has driven its viewers away. Dan and Warren's comments are exactly right.
 
Dec 9, 2003
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Oklahoma
TWC wouldn't survive 3 months doing weather the way they used to. Neither will any channel that tries to focus on weather alone. The problem is the demographic of the average American has changed to the short-attention span, entertain-me lowest-common-denominator. Today, to get a viewer, you have to somehow get people to look up from their Facebook or Candy Crush for 5 seconds, which is near impossible unless you employ every low gimmick in the book to appeal to people's basest impulses. We may shake our heads at what TV has become, but it's largely us that is to blame. Every channel that is still profitable has had to do the same things to stay around. Quality TV mostly died once the smartphone and social media came along to lower the collective intelligence of this country. Sadly, I think it's only going to get worse.
I mostly agree with the above post, but I don't agree with the hostility towards the "demographic of the average American". There *are* a lot more sources for entertainment at home now than there were 20-30 years ago; there are many more laptops, smartphones, tablets, video game consoles, and other connected devices (smart TVs, etc.) in the home now than were available decades ago. The problem is that there are still only 24 hours in a day, and people may only have 2-3 hours each day to be divvied up amongst different devices or services designed to provide entertainment or information. People will never huddle around the TV to watch a non-big-sports show in the numbers that they did for the MASH series finale. Music artists won't sell albums in the numbers they did back in the 1990s. Times change, and people spend their 'entertainment time' differently now than they did back then.

I don't watch the Weather Channel because I don't subscribe to cable or satellite TV service; I don't subscribe to those services because I don't find the programming they offer to be worth the subscription costs. I don't watch the Discovery Channel, History Channel, or "TLC" (all of which are no longer aptly named). Instead, I watch over-the-air content from major broadcast networks, spend my time surfing the web (I probably end up on Wiki 2-3 times every day), stream content on Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, etc. Heck, I spend a lot of time on YouTube watching good science-focused videos. I spend time reading up on the latest technology. Things that I used to be able to get from TV I now get from the web. It bothers me that people watch low-brow, trashy shows (which I consider most non-scripted, a.k.a. "reality", shows to be), but this seems to very much be a "to each his/her own", IMO. Is spending time on Facebook or playing a video game such as Candy Crush (for the record, I've never played that game) worse now than spending time watching soap operas, sitcoms, or hour-long procedurals was 20 years ago?
 

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Supporter
Oct 7, 2008
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Broomfield, CO
www.meteor.iastate.edu
these were the days...
Awww yeah. That smooth jazz/elevator music was the shizznit back in the day. I kinda grew up on that.

Back on-topic, I stopped watching TWC probably 8 or so years ago when they started going with the reality TV trend. I was probably one of the few viewers at the time who was still genuinely interested in the weather (and was just getting into meteorology at the college level, so I was still dumb and impressionable). Then "Abrams & Bettes" comes on and suddenly it's all about how hott Stephanie Abrams and Mike Bettes could be, and steadily less and less about the weather. Coupled with the fact that I learned about all of the internet sources for weather and began to be able to forecast the weather myself, I lost all interest in the channel. I still stop by from time to time (I still watch a lot of cable and still have a subscription...with my viewing habits it's still probably better for me than to dump cable altogether), but only when they're talking about tornadoes (if it's something I haven't seen before).
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
Like the others who have commented, I mostly stopped watching years ago. I will sometimes tune in for live coverage of a severe weather event, but I certainly don't rely on it for forecasts.

One night recently, I was in a hotel and just flipping through channels to unwind before bed - something I rarely do, but since I was away and all... I happened upon TWC and they were showing one of those tornado shows, I forget the name of it but it basically showed what happened minute by minute during significant tornados based on eyewitness accounts and videos. It was interesting enough, but they kept breaking in and cutting off the show to give updates on some ongoing severe weather. Now obviously that is important for the people in that area and it should be TWC's primary mission. But I'm screaming at the TV, "Pick one or the other here guys!!!" The severe weather coverage wasn't particularly in depth - i.e., not one of those nights when Dr. Forbes is analyzing the radar - and the tornado show became impossibly annoying to bother watching, wondering when the next interruption would occur, which it typically did right during an interesting or dramatic part. So they were basically showing two things at once. They should have just pre-empted the show if they had severe weather to cover.

I think this encapsulated their problem. They don't know what they want to be. They don't know who their core audience is. And I think there is also an issue with national versus local audience needs. A local high-end severe weather outbreak, hurricane or winter storm may be interesting to a national audience, but there is plenty of other weather (most weather, actually) that is of local interest only and not relevant to a national audience (us weather geeks notwithstanding ) And the local stuff is not hyper-local enough for the people that need it. I think the whole business model needs to change to stay relevant, but I don't pretend to know enough about the media industry or weather enterprise to offer any opinion on what that business model should be...
 

ngjere

EF1
May 10, 2010
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Saint Paul Minnesota
When TWC needed to become a profit center for someone was when the alienation of the core audience began. What retention? You had people turning to it for THE WEATHER! Check the forecast, and move on with their day. But they weren't satisfied making money from the aggregate viewership, thus someone was tasked with making sure the investment was making money in every daypart. This meant retention of eyeballs and weather reporting became secondary to the $hit $how we view today. In other words, they got greedy. Don't blame the internet entirely for shortsighted, executive stupidity. They literally drove their audience away.
 

John Farley

Supporter
Apr 1, 2004
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Pagosa Springs, CO
www.johnefarley.com
I like to watch it when there is a significant weather event going on (if they actually cover it, that is) and I think a lot of others feel that way, too. But their canned evening programming really gets in the way of that. A few weeks ago when major, potentially tornadic storms were moving in to a major metro area (St. Louis) I tuned in hoping for Dr. Forbes and got fat guys in the woods. Driving away your core audience is never a good idea.
 
May 18, 2012
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Gaines, MI
I'm like John in that I like to watch it when there is a significant event going on (unless I'm out chasing), but other than that I stopped watching regularly a year or so ago. I will tune in when I know is going to appear on Tornado Alley, but that's usually the only exception. The rest of their programming is pretty much rubbish IMO.
 
Dec 13, 2003
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TWC broke into programming to go to a press conference after the circus accident the other day. The conference had nothing to do with the weather part of it, only about "permits" and "fire marshal codes" but they stayed with it. Guess that's the news channel part coming out ( Which they do a lot)
The one thing I like most about Weather Nation is they constantly run all active watches & warnings at the bottom of the screen. State, type watch/warning than counties. Even during commercials !
 
Dec 13, 2003
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La Plata, Maryland
WUWA was the same way. Comes on here at 5:00 am to 6:00 than again from 6:00 am -7:00. The 6 to 7 one was a complete repeat. May still be I don't watch.
Is Paul Douglas still involved with WN?
 
Apr 4, 2006
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Guy, Arkansas
www.weather4ar.org
I was excited about WN until Dish got it and I realized it's generic taped stuff. Nothing to see here :)
Every bit of TV News & Weather has recorded content in it. TWC does the same thing. To say WN is the only practitioner of this is wrong. When you do multiple regionalized segments. you have to record some of them. If you think it's all live 24-7. think again.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
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skywatch.org
Are you sure TWC is taped during the day? Even during severe weather coverage? I'm going to have to pull the "prove it" card :) Unless they have the ability to pre-record NWS warnings and air them on the fly - their stuff is live during big events. WN only gives live hits at the top of the hour even during active severe weather.
 
Apr 4, 2006
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Guy, Arkansas
www.weather4ar.org
TWC isn't live when it's running those long form entertainment shows, and there are times like during the overnights, those hours get played like the greatest hits on radio. You couldn't get a live update if lives depended on it.
Are you sure TWC is taped during the day? Even during severe weather coverage? I'm going to have to pull the "prove it" card :) Unless they have the ability to pre-record NWS warnings and air them on the fly - their stuff is live during big events. WN only gives live hits at the top of the hour even during active severe weather.
 
Oct 25, 2004
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Tucson, Arizona
Actually, that's being generous. If they would have stayed with their original format, and not gone crazy with the glitzy reality eco-nonsense, they would be so much better off. The techno gadgetry of today is far better suited to their brand of weather news & information, but, if what you really need to know a forecast, or where the severe storms are going to be, you're much better off with a NOAA Weather Radio, the local Broadcast Mets, or WeatherNation. The internet has a lot of better sources than weather.com.
You're right, Warren. My cousins and I BEGGED my elderly aunt / uncle (my cousin's parents) to subscribe to cable so they could have access to The Weather Channel. Seriously, I mean we BEGGED, because they both grew up dirt poor in Nebr. during the Great Depression and to them, spending money for Cable "when we've already got free local t.v." was considered being foolishly extravagant by the both." Since their farm was only 90 miles north of the annual "Tornado-Bullseye-of-Nebraska"....Grand Island....we wanted them to have the best storm coverage that a high-profile, bucks-up 24hrs/day outfit like The Weather Channel could provide. Well, we finally wore them down, and soon they were hooked up with cable. The next spring I was back in tornado alley for my annual storm-chase month. I stopped by their farm and stayed with them during a short, storm-free few days. We were watching t.v. after supper and I asked them if they'd please change the channel for a quick moment to the Weather Channel, so I could see what was going on around the alley. They informed me that they had cancelled their Cable subscription. I was shocked...and a little ticked off, although I kept that to myself. It turns out, they really felt that their LOCAL weather stations....out of Grand Island, Hastings and Lincoln, did a FAR better job with keeping them apprised with the best up-to-the-second live radar views and reports than The Weather Channel did during severe / tornadic weather episodes. And truth be told, once I actually watched a few local stations do their thing when there was tornadic weather in the area late one night, I absolutely had to agree with them. I soon became obvious to me that The Weather Channel basically lets the folks out in "flyover country" fend for themselves when the going gets rough. Not enough viewers in a county like theirs that has only 6,000 or so residents compared to the masses in the D.C. Beltway.....so naturally the Beltway and the entire Northeast USA (and Florida...lol) get most of the Weather Channel "lovin". We were soooo hopeful that The Weather Channel would provide something special for our old folks still out on the farm, but it wasn't meant to be. Too bad, too. It could have been such a great thing.