DirecTV Demands 20 Percent Rate Cut, Then Drops The Weather Channel

Satellite provider plays hardball

With more and more people getting the weather through their phones and computers, DirecTV has decided that The Weather Channel is no longer a worthwhile investment and has dropped the channel from its lineup. Negotiations apparently had The Weather Channel asking for a penny-a-sub increase (not an insubstantial amount, to be clear, but the network had its first upfront last year and has been trying to increase its value with a large unscripted lineup), with DirecTV pushing back with a surprisingly harsh demand for a 20 percent rate drop.

Rate drops are very rare in the business of cable subscription fees these days, but they may become more common for networks like The Weather Channel that aren't tethered to an existing cable package. (Despite being owned in part by NBCUniversal, Weather isn't bundled with any of NBCU's cable offerings) It's a bad time to be an independent network, generally: Ovation and Time Warner had a very public dustup that ended on Jan. 1; other nets like Hallmark have yet to feel the pinch.

Ironically, it may have been Weather's aspirations to greater success in the general cable market that hurt its value to DirecTV: Weather's last dispute with the satellite company, in 2010, resulted in The Weather Cast, a bare-bones forecast network DirecTV developed to replace Weather in 2010. Now, that network is called WeatherNation TV and it's looking like DirecTV may simply opt to keep it, instead: WeatherNation has been available one station over from The Weather Channel since the middle of last month, when these negotiations became heated. Now it's the only way to get the forecast on your satellite connection.

Meanwhile, AccuWeather, the general-market competitor to The Weather Channel, has been shopping The AccuWeather Channel. The network announced yesterday that it hoped to launch (although it doesn't appear to have any carriage agreements) in Q3. It will also have an online component.