The Weather Channel remains off DirecTV with no return in sight. In fact, TWC chief David Kenny says the network may never return to the satellite service, cutting off TWC to 20 million homes. DirecTV replaced TWC with WeatherNation. What is WeatherNation? NewsBlues‘ Mike James spent an hour yesterday watching the network along with “a top TV weather professional.”
The company, the brainchild of former WCCO-4-CBS Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas, originates from a small studio in Excelsior, MN, a southwestern suburb of Minneapolis. The studio is tiny, made to look larger by occasional drop-in shots of a larger “virtual studio,” which exists only on a computer hard drive.
WeatherNation appears to use the Omni weather graphics system from Baron Industries of Huntsville, AL. The Weather Company, parent company of The Weather Channel, controls the two other primary weather graphics companies: Weather Services International and Weather Central.
WeatherNation does indeed seem to operate on 15-minute programming loops, some of which appear to be pre-taped and repeated during the day. On-camera talent, all of whom are degreed and highly qualified meteorologists, rotate in and out on staggered eight-hour shifts. Talent appears to control the switching of graphics and studio cameras, which are locked down.
Our source estimates that WeatherNation has spent somewhere in the range of $125,000-$175,000 for computer hardware, and probably has monthly radar data charges of about $4,000 from Baron Industries. Studio cameras are small and unmanned. The lighting is unimpressive.
DirecTV was paying The Weather Channel 13-cents a month per-subscriber, or more than $30 million a year. TWC wanted 14-cents per month.
“I heard [WeatherNation is] providing the service free…and, for now, are surviving only on advertising revenue,” NewsBlues’ weather pro says. In the hour they watched, the channel had four short commercial breaks, including a two-minute infomercial for a product called the “Wax Vac” ear cleaner.