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Does The Weather Channel benefit from blizzards?

The Northeast is expected to be hammered by a winter storm of 'historic' proportions. Many are bracing for the worst, but some businesses think snowmageddon is snowtacular.

Most of us panic or try to remember how much canned food we have when we hear words like these: "We're going to have basically two storms coming together, merging into one much larger storm."

That's meteorologist Stephen Strum, with Frontier Weather. But the bad storm is good for some businesses, says Evan Gold with Planalytics, which studies the economic impact of weather.

"This is great news for The Weather Channel," he says. Gold describes The Weather Channel as reality TV, and big storms like these are the products it sells. This year the channel is even branding blizzards.

"The Weather Channel has started to name the storms." Gold says.

Meet Nemo, that's what The Weather Channel is calling this one. Gold says the bigger the storm, the bigger the audience and the ad revenue.

"They are definitely about trying to help people understand and manage the impact of weather, but they are a media company first -- they are in business to make money," he says.

The Weather Channel didn't respond to requests for comment, but during Hurricane Sandy, it got more primetime viewers than any cable news show.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.
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The sensationalized "news" of bad weather is worse for our economy than the actual storms themselves in most cases. Yes, fair warning allows us to protect property and stock up (on what we buy anyway), but too often the effort to drive ratings results in staying hunkered down by the screen waiting for more bad news, even when it is not required to play it that safe. Over-commercialization of reporting of natural weather events is just as bad as price gouging on supplies and materials during and after them. Should this be under the cover of "journalistic integrity" or must it be regulated to protect consumers and business from exploitation?

I was surprised to hear you folks continue to refer to today's nor'easter as "Nemo" after you explained that the name was a creation of TWC (in order to drive up their TV ratings and web site traffic) and not an official name from the National Weather Service which, as we know, does not name winter storms.

Please stop doing this. When this storm goes into the official record books it will not be called "Nemo" or any other silly name TWC decides it should be called for its own monetary interests. It's disappointing enough to watch so many in the traditional media get played by TWC without you guys jumping on the bandwagon.

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