Saturday, November 16, 2013

The New Look Of The Weather Channel

If you haven't seen lately, The Weather Channel (TWC) recently relaunched its look (you can click the video above for that picture) to add more weather to a channel that is ultimately about weather but is struggling somewhat in ratings as of late.

Although you gotta wonder if using the term "the ESPN of weather" is an appropriate course of action.

Yes, TWC added weather information full-time to the screen, debuting an inverse "L" around the periphery of the screen, with programming in the upper left and information (forecast, current conditions) on the bottom and the right.

Will the network go back to full-time weather coverage, all the time?  Not so fast.

Programming remains a mix of live weather information and those quasi-weather programs (dare we say, weathertainment) such as "Highway Thru Hell" and "Prospectors", but with weather information staying on the screen in those bottom and right sides during the non-live weather programming.

The Weather Channel's viewership is down to its lowest level in five years, shedding over twenty percent of its viewership since 2011.  The network hopes its rebranding will recapture some of those lost eyeballs.

Part of that rebranding includes regionalized live coverage of breaking weather events, such as severe weather outbreaks, snowstorms, and so on. This focus isn't much of a change from their past precedent regarding weather coverage, which means that viewers here would not be able to get updates on a severe weather outbreak in the Plains. However, there will be a greater focus on more breaking coverage of live weather...but just on a regional basis.

Will it work? Personally, I don't think the rebrand is a real shift in coverage but a tweak. Adding more info is good to get the "what's going on, what to expect" but the programming is a mere face lift. Getting rid of "Iron Men" and replacing it with "Highway Thru Hell", which ran on National Geographic earlier this year, isn't really getting more into the weather. One could easily argue Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch probably are more weather-relevant through watching truckers go through a mountain range in British Columbia.

If anything, TWC seems in a lot of ways more the same as it was before...and despite the talking points about more weather, it still seems far removed from its pure roots from the 1980's and 1990's. Unfortunately for hardcore weather fans, TWC's ship isn't returning to that port anymore and hoping for that to occur is arguably a very fruitless exercise.