With its first distribution deal in place, the Accuweather Channel is now a reality.
Accuweather Channel is now the primary weather network on Verizon FiOS, bumping the Weather Channel from the lineup. While the 5.5 million subscribers of FiOS pales in comparison to the 97 million homes of The Weather Channel (the most widely-distributed of all cable networks), company CEO Barry Lee Myers tells TVNewser he’s aiming for the distribution stratosphere. Myers says what sets AC apart from TWC is that “it’s all weather all the time,” a subtle shot at TWC’s penchant for primetime reality programs. Myers says “the modern digital feel” of the network will also be a draw. We talked to Dr. Myers this afternoon about the new deal:
TVNewser: As we saw in the dispute with DirecTV, The Weather Channel returned after a new deal came together. Could this happen this time with FiOS or do you have long-term deal as the one and only weather network?
Myers: I can’t go into the contract details, but I don’t think that that’s going to happen.
TVNewser: The Accuweather Channel is just launching. The Weather Channel is almost 33 years old. Is part of your long-term strategy to catch up in terms of distribution or do you focus on digital?
Myers: Our company has been around since 1962…we started out focused on B to B customers providing the most accurate forecasts around the world. We have maintained that commitment to accuracy. We are the most well-known brand in the world in terms of weather. Cable was the one place we had an empty spot, and have now filled that.
TVNewser: Most people get their weather via smartphone apps. Where does your digital device strategy fit in with your cable/satellite provider strategy?
Myers: We view ourselves as being on all platforms. The Weather Channel started out as cable channel and will continue in that direction. We’re the world’s largest digital media weather company and recent figures from Experian show we’re larger in the U.S. than the websites of the Weather Channel. And I’m looking forward to the day when we are larger on cable.
TVNewser: Accuweather is inextricably tied to Penn State. But has there been any thought of either taking the company public, or has there been interest from other media companies in acquiring it?
Myers: We have no formal ties to Penn State. We are a separate corporation, but we do get a lot of our talent there, we hire a lot of their students. I can’t go into any details about the business side of it. But we have been growing at a phenomenal rate. The last three years have been the largest growth in the history of the company. We see ourselves as a perpetual start-up and we’re proving that.
This interview has been condensed and edited.