It’s Alive: Frankenstorm Hits New York

DirecTV launches info channel, Aereo shills, and Alec Baldwin walks his dog

Let it never be said that New Yorkers are slow to capitalize on acts of God.

Gotham's media community was in overdrive on Monday, likely from their houses, apartments or maybe even their offices as Hurricane Sandy—soon to become "Frankenstorm" as it runs into sundry other weather fronts headed toward it in the opposite direction—approached landfall in New York.

First up was DirecTV, which made waves with a public service station launched this morning—a 24-hour-a-day cable network devoted to storm coverage launched at 9 a.m. The MSO said that "DIRECTV plans to provide continuous coverage until the hurricane has diminished in strength," so expect the company to foot the bill for the weather network until at least Thursday. The channel will simulcast news and information coverage in affected markets.

And, of course, where there's the public spirit, there is also the entrepreneurial spirit. Barry Diller's much-litigated broadcast streaming service Aereo (currently active only in New York) took the opportunity to grab some new customers who might be without broadcast TV during the storm—many New Yorkers can't receive broadcast signals anymore. The network expanded its  trial period to draw in storm-drenched New Yorkers looking for info, spreading the news via its Twitter feed:


Local linear cable and telcom providers were battening down the hatches just like the rest of the city. Verizon closed many of its stores early, but it also stocked up on car chargers and battery-operated gizmos so folks could stay in touch as cranes fell, reporters counted the dead, and Alec Baldwin walked his tiny dog.

Comcast issued friendly warnings to its customers, following a storm tips guide with some common-sense caveats. "Commercial power must be restored to your home to power your cable box and modem before your video, phone and internet services can begin working again," the MSO said. "Only after power lines are repaired in your area can Comcast technicians obtain access to repair any network damage the storm might have caused." Makes sense, doesn't it?

The National Association of Broadcasters made a point of congratulating its constituents on the local coverage of the storm. "I salute the remarkable work of our radio and TV station colleagues now putting themselves in harm's way to keep millions of people safe and informed on the devastation of this deadly storm," said president and CEO Gordon Smith.

Cable networks are in the awkward position of having to cover both the storm ravaging the home base city for CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, and the last full week of politicking before the presidential election. CNN issued a release on Monday saying that it would continue to devote resources to Sandy throughout the week; the network is also simulcasting CNN International during The Situation Room this afternoon at 4 p.m. EST, as it did earlier today.

Meanwhile, Adweek suggests that you stay safe and use these handy tools to avoid the wind and the rain.