Starting today, The Weather Channel will expand its live coverage by up to 10 minutes an hour, a change long sought by viewers and even pay TV partners.
The move comes just two weeks after comedian and entrepreneur Byron Allen acquired The Weather Channel from Comcast, Blackstone Group and Bain Capital for approximately $300 million, according to Bloomberg News.
It’s unknown if the new owner influenced the change in programming strategy. But the channel last night began notifying viewers who subscribe to its newsletter that the expansion of live coverage would begin today.
“Many of you have told us that you want to see more of our trusted weather coverage and we’ve taken note,” the newsletter stated. “Starting tomorrow (April 3), we will be extending our live coverage by up to 10 minutes per hour, giving you a chance to dig even deeper into the weather affecting you each day.”
To create more time for live coverage, The Weather Channel said it would “collapse our Local On the 8s so that they run during our live segments. Where you use to see our traditional Local On the 8s segments, you will see the same weather information displayed on the right side and/or bottom of the screen.”
The Weather Channel’s Twitter page tweeted this morning that the Local On the 8s segments, which offer greater detail on the viewer’s local weather forecast, would still run in the old format several times a day. Previously, they always ran during breaks from the channel’s live coverage.
“A reimagined version (of Local On the 8s) will air during the other ‘traditional’ LO8 slots during live programming,” the channel wrote.
Critics of The Weather Channel have long said it devotes too much time to reality programming and other segments rather than concentrating on live updates. In 2014, DIRECTV even made an expansion of live broadcasts a condition of its new programming agreement with the channel.
While the channel did reduce its reality programming somewhat after that, many said TWC still relied too heavily on non-live shows and segments.
— Phillip Swann