Weather Central to Challenge Weather Channel's Site

The company is launching, which will compete with, and apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices as it looks for new partners among media and Internet companies.

NEW YORK - Weather Central, a provider of weather graphics, information and data for TV, the Internet and mobile, is starting to reach out to consumers directly in a move that will challenge The Weather Channel's popular

Amid continued interest in news stories with a weather angle, such as the recent storms in the Southern U.S., the company is launching and a range  of digital products Monday, including a desktop application and free apps for the Apple iPhone and Android-powered mobile devices. An app for the iPad will also launch in the coming weeks.

The new MyWeather consumer business adds to the company's long-established business-to-business operation that provides weather information and graphics to TV stations and clients in the cable TV, energy and insurance industries, among others.

The company said it is exploring partnerships with  "major media networks, Internet portals and content sites" that would integrate its consumer information.

The company promises "the most personal and precise suite of weather products for consumers anywhere on the globe," arguing that MyWeather is "six times more precise in providing location-specific weather conditions than its competitors," such as the Weather Channel’s and others, given its weather data is available for locations of roughly a half mile-wide radius.

NBCUniversal and private equity firms own the Weather Channel.

Weather Central says its images and data have a 47 percent share of the weather information delivery market in the U.S. and Canada, followed by an arm of the Weather Channel with 42 percent and Accuweather's 10 percent. The firm also says it has the "most-viewed broadcast weather system in the world."

More than 350 Web sites, primarily local TV station sites, use its weather information, and 337 TV stations  in North America use its on-air software for presenting weather information.

MyWeather is expected to make revenue from advertising and a paid service that will be launched later and that will charge users for specialized content.

“MyWeather is a weather application for the Facebook generation,” said Chris Kelly, president of MyWeather. “We set out to provide users with a degree of customization and portability that they demand in an increasingly mobile world."

“With the launch of MyWeather, Weather Central is thrilled to bring its industry-leading weather data and graphics directly to consumers worldwide, and with a new level of personalization that’s never before been available,” said Terry Kelly, founder and CEO of Weather Central.

The company was founded in 1974 by broadcasters and meteorologists in Madison, Wisconsin.

In January, E.L. Rothschild LLC, a private investment company led by chairman Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and CEO Lynn Forester de Rothschild, acquired a majority stake in Weather Central with the goal of expanding the company’s business. The firm also has an investment in the Economist Group.


Twitter: @georgszalai