Weather news is a rare media spotlight


Long before Twitter announced in June the launch of a local subscription weather service – to capitalize on how users flock to the site during events such as weather emergencies – meteorologist Erik Proseus had already spent years of conditioning tens of thousands of Internet users to do so. same thing. Years ago, in fact, this Memphis-based meteorologist already understood the potential inherent in delivering tailor-made weather information to an audience you assemble yourself, without the restrictions and broadcast imperatives of an overlord of the world. ‘business. It’s a seemingly recession-proof news model, as people’s interest in what’s going on outside is sure to never falter. And that’s why, when the skies darken in Memphis, so many digital connoisseurs no longer instinctively grab the TV remote to turn on local news. They are launching either the Proseus mobile application or the presence on social networks for its DIY operation, MemphisWeather.Net.

Suffice it to say, he is also far from the only entrepreneurial meteorologist to prove the truth of those words of Bob Dylan about not needing a meteorologist to know in which way the wind blows (the meteorologist, in this case, being of the type). @NashSevereWx, with more than 205,000 followers on Twitter, provides “local, community-supported weather” covering Nashville and Williamson County in Tennessee. Even with @wxornotBG, with more than 10,000 followers on its Twitter account, providing hyperlocal weather coverage for part of Kentucky. The point is, however, that they are all about to have a lot more competition in this space.

More weather news in the forecast

In addition to the paid weather service of Twitter, the Weather channels the parent company launches a new streaming service focused on the weather Later this year. It will be known as The Weather Channel Plus and will cost subscribers $ 4.99 / month.

Media company AccuWeather will also launch a video streaming product later this year. It will be called AccuWeather NOW and will offer 24 hours of daily weather-themed programming. Even the Fox News network, which is preparing a brand new Fox-branded AVOD weather channel for launch this fall, seems to have simultaneously come up with the same idea that is behind all of these efforts. Namely, that weather news has long been an underrated aspect of this business.

Or, said another way and to borrow a recent pun from The New York Times – the weather is taking the media industry by storm.

“Honestly, I’m not surprised to see a service (like Twitter’s) offered,” Proseus told me. “While Twitter has always excelled at breaking news, the ‘late’ nature of extreme – or even inclement – weather conditions also falls into its wheelhouse, so I’m more surprised it’s only happening now.

“In fact, a few loose weather-related Twitter organizations have already performed organically and been well received. Since Twitter needs to make money to stay viable, monetizing the service using its new features is probably a natural step. I’ll be curious to see how well it works, given that so much valuable weather information is already available for free on the platform.

And not to mention the fact that the potential for overlap between these services could end up being a questionable prospect. Among streaming consumers, for example, there is undoubtedly enough appetite to pay. Netflix as well as Disney +, HBO Max, Apple TV + and more. For one thing, you don’t get the same content on all of these services. But if you are for example in Memphis and already enjoy following the weather content produced by MemphisWeather.Net, are you really going to start paying Twitter for its service when your local needs are already being met now?

The weather channel

Some big bets hinge on the answer to this question. And it’s obvious that what the media giants think (or hope) is possible here. Viewers are pretty much completely overwhelmed by the election news and quickly lose interest in the post-Trump political landscape. In the first six months of this year, the average audience of Fox, CNN, and MSNBC fell almost 40% from the same period in 2020. Were you on Weather Channel? An increase of 7%.

Certainly, the increase in attention is not just due to the weather – or rather, specific weather conditions from one day to the next. It also fits well with a growing awareness that climate change deserves much more focused attention and resources from media operations. This is why the Weather channel has also revamped its morning lineup recently, placing more emphasis on storytelling and not just, well, the weather. Programs on climate change are also in preparation, including a documentary series entitled Frozen gold on the miners of Greenland (where melting ice makes it easier to find deposits of minerals and ores).

The company’s first projection is that the new streaming service will have some 30 million subscribers by the end of 2026.

Currently, from Twitter

Twitter’s attempt at all of this, meanwhile, is the newsletter-centric offer. Currently. A team of local meteorologists in a small number of cities to start, along with climate journalist Eric Holthaus, will produce a combination of free and premium content on weather and related topics, such as climate change.

The value proposition for paying members is quite specific. This includes getting interactive text messages with weather alerts right to your phone, direct access to a team of weather forecasters via SMS, and getting “member-only experimental tales via audio clips, visual arts, and entertainment. poetry”. For only $ 5 / month, should we add.

Here again, however, it’s worth pointing out: at least in a city like Memphis, you already get most of the above from Proseus and the team working with him. One of the few things that might get someone to seek out the added value inherent in Currently is the more in-depth, journalistic product that reports on things like climate change.

Fox Weather Channel

“A notable change is taking place in the provision of weather information to the public,” Prosée told me. “More and more, the emphasis is on making this content available digitally, always ‘active’ and always current, and in a ‘hyper-local’ manner. Traditional news and weather broadcasting is rapidly losing ground in favor of the second screen, especially for Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z. In fact, the new generation of broadcast meteorologists are being trained in both traditional and digital dissemination of their information. The 5, 6, and 10 p.m. login days are coming to an end for most people. “

Which helps to explain what brass superior to Fox think. Similar to what he did with the launch of the Business fox chain in 2007, the network is preparing to launch a Fox weather at one point, at least one source told me, in October (although that month is still a rough estimate at this point).

Fox has already, as you can imagine, started poaching meteorologists from across the country for this new offering. Even from the Weather channel himself, with meteorologist Shane Brown having left to join Fox’s new effort.

That said, it’s also not surprising that even at this early stage, the rivals are already shooting each other. Nora Zimmett, Content Manager at the Weather channel (and one Fox News alum), told the NYT: “I applaud Fox enter weather space, but they should certainly leave vital information to the experts. »In order not to be outdone, a Fox News spokesperson also told the newspaper: “While the Weather channel focuses on trolling for unrelated stories, Weather Renard is busy preparing for the launch of our innovative platform to provide critical coverage to an incredibly underserved market. “


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