Goodbye, Jim Cantore bending into a hurricane. Goodbye, winter storm “Thor.” Goodbye, “Fat Guys in the Woods” reality TV programming. Hello, nonstop weather coverage by nerdy meteorologists you may have never heard of — yet — who will nonetheless be available around the clock to tell you exactly when it’s going to snow.
The Weather Channel has come under fire in recent years for its increased use of reality TV programming during slow periods, and use of “named” storms. It remains to be seen whether the new, untried AccuWeather Network can match it.
But in State College on Tuesday, AccuWeather CEO Barry Lee Myers was crowing about his new network — and its stealthy debut.
“We kept this under wraps for a year,” he said. “People have been asking, ‘Why is there a need for another Weather Channel?’ Ours looks and feels different. It’s new, it’s vital, it blends in well with the suite of devices out there that already people use to get their weather. We have a really strong crew of people, and I have no doubt they will develop a following.”
A Verizon official insisted that the switch was “a business decision” based on the increased use of digital media by consumers to get their weather and a demand for weather coverage without reality TV programming. Faced with declining ratings, The Weather Channel began running shows like “Highway Thru Hell” and “Prospectors” several years ago to boost ratings during slow periods.
The new AccuWeather Network “allows us to maintain an ‘all weather, all the time’ presence for our customers with FiOS TV who want a specialized view of both local and national weather activity while also reducing somewhat our overall rising content costs,” said Lee Gierczynski, a Verizon spokesman. In addition, FiOS will offer a WeatherBug widget for hyperlocal weather, available based on ZIP code, on the cable provider’s channel 49. It can be launched by pressing the “widget” button on the FiOS TV remote.