At Midnight Tuesday morning, DirecTV has threatened to pull the plug on The Weather Channel. The feud is because of a carriage dispute (the amount of money The Weather Channel receives per subscriber of DirecTV). Carriage disputes aren’t new. They go on between local affiliates and cable providers and in this case, The Weather Channel and DirecTV. The Weather Channel is asking for an additional penny per customer. Right now, DirecTV pays The Weather Channel $0.13 per customer, per month for the programming. An additional penny may not sound like much, but DirecTV has 35,560,000 customers and that amounts to The Weather Channel getting an additional $4,267,200 annually!
But the question at hand here is not whether they deserve a 4.2 million dollar raise, rather if not having TWC is a safety issue.
TWC would like you to believe you’re less safe. When I was a kid, we didn’t have Cable TV. I think it was called “Cablevision” in Rockford back then. Once my brother, sister, and I were successful lobbying my dad for cable, I fell in love with The Weather Channel. But were we less safe before we had it? Personally, I don’t think so. We had a NOAA Weather Radio in the house (that would go off all the time). My family felt comforted and safe because Gilbert Sebenste and Eric Nefstead were always on Channel 13, warning us about severe weather.
Take the Moore, Oklahoma tornado from May of last year. Moore is located within the Oklahoma City television market. And on that day, local television affiliates in OKC achieved over 90% share. That means that nine out of ten televisions were on local stations. So, even if The Weather Channel was a logical choice for Oklahomans to get weather information, it was way less than 10% of the share that day. So, I personally don’t buy the “You won’t be safe without The Weather Channel” argument.
Looking at the Nielsen ratings in the past few years, WREX rates solidly #1 during times of severe weather, followed distantly by the CBS and ABC affiliate, followed after that by The Weather Channel. Now, am I knocking the good work by my friends and colleagues in Atlanta? No. There is an enormous amount of value in The Weather Channel’s programming. Nationally, The Weather Channel does more to educate Americans about Meteorology than anyone else on broadcast television. And their internet share reaches more than any other national weather outlet, warning more people about severe weather than anyone else. So there is incredible value in their brand.
But will my neighbors who have DirecTV be less safe after midnight? No. And that’s because in addition to the Meteorologists here at the 13 Weather Authority, there are two other weather teams dedicated to covering severe weather. On top of that, add WREX’s educational program “Project: Tornado,” outdoor warning sirens, and new wireless alerts to make Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin safer than ever.
As a DirecTV customer, I’ll miss the ability to tune into “Wake Up with Al” in the morning, but in the meantime, I’ll get to know the Meteorologists at WeatherNation.
What do you think? Chime in on our Facebook page! -Eric
Posted under news
This post was written by Eric Sorensen on January 13, 2014