Viewers tune into this channel when it gets nasty outside. The Weather Channel operates a 24-hour cable network that reaches about 100 million US homes with a mix of regional and local weather forecasts, storm alerts, and long-range forecasts, as well as extended coverage of damaging storms and floods. The Weather Channel also operates weather.com, which boasts an audience of more than 60 million users per month, and provides syndicated weather information to more than 700 radio stations. The company is controlled by financial entity TWCC Holding Corp., a consortium made up of NBCUniversal (NBCU) and private equity firms Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group. It operates as a separate business managed by NBCU.
The Weather Channel is distributed to nearly every cable, satellite, and telecom outlet in the US. It also has operations in Canada through a 50% stake in Pelmorex, Inc., the Canadian company that owns The Weather Network and Meteo Media. The Weather Channel's radio network has a presence in 42 of the top 50 US markets; it also includes 112 stations in the Georgia News Network and 62 stations in the Alabama Radio Network. The Weather Channel has an international reach online with a series of language-specific sites for the UK, Germany, and France, as well as Latin American markets such as Brazil.
While weather information seems to be ubiquitous across the television and Internet news spectrum, The Weather Channel has become a popular destination for viewers thanks to its reputation for live, on-the-spot reporting during hurricanes and other severe weather events. It battles for viewers with local TV stations and other cable news networks including CNN and FOX News. The channel's unique programming -- which includes original weather-related series such as Storm Riders -- serves as a supporting companion to NBCU's other news and information channels such as MSNBC.
In addition to its TV, radio, and Internet holdings, the company owns Weather Services International, or WSI Coporation. WSI primarily provides business-to-business weather services, particularly for the media, aviation, marine, and energy sectors. It supplies real-time weather data, imagery, and weather forecasting tools. On the mobile front, The Weather Channel delivers weather-related information and forcasts to smartphone users through one of the most popular weather apps available.
In 2012 the company expanded via the acquisition of Weather Underground, a leading provider of Web-based weather data, for an undisclosed price. The Weather Channel is using the deal to add Weather Underground's about 10 million unique visitors a month to its user base. Weather Underground agreed to the purchase in order to gain more resources for strengthening its existing website, apps, and blogs.
NBCU joined with the private equity firms in 2008 to acquire The Weather Channel from Landmark Communications for about $3.5 billion. The purchase expanded the media conglomerate's already hefty cable portfolio, which has become an important source of revenue thanks to increasing carriage fees paid by cable system operators. The Weather Channnel was launched by Landmark in 1982. Landmark sold the channel and its information assets as part of a broader plan to break-up its media holdings. The diversified conglomerate had been suffering from declines in its core newspaper business.