Friday, May 30, 2008

Behind the deal for the Weather Channel

It's been in the headlines one way or another for almost six months.

Privately-held Landmark Communications has been shopping for a buyer for it's weather divisions including The Weather Channel and

IHT , the NY Times, (and others) reported the news in early January of this year.

There have been numerous (large cap) 'interested parties' since that time.

Several headlines this morning are speculating that a consortium which includes NBC (the broadcast unit of GE) and the Blackstone Group (best known for it's upscale hotel acquisitions and as the first private equity firm to go public) will win the bidding with their latest offer of $3.5 billion US.

It's unclear whether Landmark will actually agree to the bid.

The weather is one of those things that's always there. While there are tens of thousands of weather destinations on the Internet, the brand is extremely strong, as is their cable / satellite tv channel audience. The combined audience could be considered HUGE.

It's a defined space that never goes away.

While NBC's Weather Plus is mentioned in most of the articles,'s strongest competitor is not. Privately-held AccuWeather, with it's large team of meteorologists, 'mega-computers', and popular website ( is considered by many industry watchers to be The Weather Channel's strongest competitor in the TV and radio weather syndication space. In fact, many NBC television franchises currently use AccuWeather products, which include everything from branding to graphics to complete weather forecasts by their own on air team (as well as a barrage of other industry-specific professional weather services).

Also in the US TV/Radio weather media mix is AWS Convergence Technologies with their extensive network of public school based weather stations, providing current local weather readings to TV and Radio stations.

The Weather Underground is now competing somewhat in the newspaper and mainstream market as well. The website was the first commercial consumer oriented internet weather source.

Enter the US Government. The US National Weather Service (part of NOAA) maintains more on site weather radars (and satellites) in the US than anyone. Most of the data (along with some provided by NASA) is made available to these companies and the public on a multitude of websites including, yes,

At the current price, this deal is probably good for NBC (and GE). It's the brand, the URL (in this case) and cross-marketing possibilities. The mainstream media weather landscape would change somewhat short-term and it actually could be good and bad for the competing brand-name weather providers, depending on how NBC integrates the TWC product.

Links / References Updated June 1