Weather Channel free-for-all

Screen shot from Weather.com

If you happened to be channel surfing recently, you may have noticed new doppelganger of The Weather Channel. DirecTV subscribers now have WeatherNation, an all-weather channel located right next to The Weather Channel, a not so subtle move in what you might call the Weather Wars.

The unveiling of Weather Nation is the latest move in a series of battles between content distributions, like DirecTV, and content providers, in this case the Weather Channel. “I think this is a trend because rates continue to escalate,” says Laura Martin, a senior analyst with Needham & Company.

Those escalating rates are the subscription fees DirecTV pays The Weather Channel. Right now it’s  13 cents per subscriber according to SNL Kagan. If DirecTV can successfully replace The Weather Channel with Weather Nation it would save millions of dollars in subscription fees.  “So it might make economic sense for a lot of the distributors to do this,” says Martin.

Because The Weather Channel’s fee is already on the low end, it doesn’t have much room to negotiate. So instead, it’s trying to attract more viewers by expanding its content by offering not-so-weather related shows like Prospectors, a reality show about modern day prospectors in search of precious metals.

If programs like this succeed in attracting new viewers it will give The Weather Channel a little leverage in the negotiations. The current deal between DirecTV and The Weather Channel expires next week.

About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.

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