NBCU Blows in Weather Channel Buy

NBC Universal and two financial partners announced on Sunday that they had reached an agreement to acquire The Weather Channel, capping an auction that began in January of this year.

Although financial terms were not disclosed, it is believed that the NBCU consortium will pony up $3.5 billion, well shy of Landmark Communications’ earlier asking price of $5 billion.

Joining NBCU in its bid for The Weather Channel are the private equity firms Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group, which together will contribute $1.8 billion to secure the transaction.

Under the terms of the deal, Weather will function as a standalone entity within the NBCU family, and will not be merged with the media conglomerate’s existing meteorological service, NBC Weather Plus. The newly-acquired Weather will continue to be based in Atlanta.

The transaction includes the flagship cable network, as well as Weather’s digital and mobile extensions. Weather.com drew around 38 million unique users in May, according to Nielsen Online.

NBCU expects the deal will close by the end of the year.

“This will further position NBC Universal as the leading provider of news, information and weather, both online and on television,” said NBCU president and CEO Jeff Zucker, by way of announcing the deal. “Joining with The Weather Channel properties plays to our strengths in developing and programming cable networks, and in producing and distributing high-quality content across multiple platforms.”

Although CBS, Comcast and Time Warner also had expressed interest in Weather earlier in the year, all three eventually dropped out of the running. NBCU emerged as the sole bidder on June 13.