AccuWeather Launches Its First National Weather Channel

AccuWeather Still - H 2015
Courtesy of AccuWeather

AccuWeather Still - H 2015

It launches on Verizon FiOS only four days after the telecom dropped carriage of The Weather Channel.

On Friday AccuWeather, which has been providing local TV and radio stations information on weather for almost 50 years, launched its first national 24/7 television channel.

The new service is now in more than 5 million U.S. homes served by the Verizon FiOS cable network. It also offers digital and mobile services during a winter that has been one of the worst in American history in many parts of the nation.

The carriage deal kicks in four days after Verizon FiOS dropped The Weather Channel from its lineup in the wake of a dispute over the cost of the service and other factors.

A spokesman for Verizon FiOS earlier this week said that in the current environment, an increasing number of people get their weather news from local news sources, digital and mobile, suggesting that makes a national weather cable channel less valuable.

Shirley Powell, a spokeswoman for The Weather Channel, said Verizon informed them they no longer would carry their service and that all negotiations to renew their contract have ended.

Powell said comments on social media indicate there has been support for The Weather Channel on Verizon. "There's been a terrible winter in the northeast," said Powell, "and we have sent lots of correspondents out to cover the various storms. And that's what people want to see from a weather provider, so you can go on the Verizon FiOS Facebook page and you'll see lots and lots of customer support for our network."

AccuWeather boasts that it is providing similar coverage, featuring national, regional and local weather updates.

AccuWeather CEO Barry Lee Myers said the reason they started the new channel, first announced in 2014, is that they have offered "coverage in virtually every other medium and because of our expertise in digital technology, we created a channel with the look and feel of a digital device."

AccuWeather has long provided localized weather reports to TV and radio as well as business and government. Its promotion promises to deliver " 'All Weather, All the Time' content with superior accuracy."

This isn't the first time The Weather Channel, which is majority owned by Comcast/NBCUniversal, has been in a carriage dispute. In Jan. 2014, the Weather Channel was dropped by DirecTV after it sought an increase in the per subscriber payment it receives.

DirecTV had complained at the time that The Weather Channel was offering too much "reality programming" and had shifted its focus in much of the day to things like the world's sexiest beaches instead of weather.

During the period The Weather Channel was off, DirecTV replaced it with a newer service: WeatherNation.

After three months of a blackout in the more than 20 million DirecTV homes, a deal was struck for a small raise, and The Weather Channel returned April 9, 2014. The Weather Channel also agreed to adjust its programming so that it again offered a steady flow of weather-related news.

Powell shrugged off the loss of the more than 5 million Verizon FiOS homes. She said The Weather Channel, which is available in more than 80 percent of American TV homes, has recently closed deals for carriage with NCTC (a national cooperative of small cable systems) and Time Warner Cable. Added Powell: "We haven't had any issues coming to terms with those distributors."