When contract negotiations between DirecTV and The Weather Channel broke down, the weather-based network decided it would take its grievances to the public, leaving DirecTV with a forecast of dark clouds, high pressure fronts, and a whole lot of blustery weather.
"Only the weather channel is committed to telling the entire story, and keeping you informed and safe during the worst of it. DirectTV thinks that their subscribers can do without this life-saving information."
DirecTV's agreement to carry The Weather Channel expired at the end of 2013, which means DirecTV subscribers will lose access to the network Jan. 14 if a new deal isn't signed. The Weather Channel is pulling out all the stops to pressure DirecTV into cutting a deal: there's a website, a Twitter hashtag, even a phone number for petitioners to complain to Congress about the switch.
Now, this might all seem oddly reminiscent of last year's very public spat between CBS and Time Warner Cable. But The Weather Channel insists there's another factor at play here: the well-being of the general public.
In the official press release, The Weather Channel accuses DirecTV of endangering public safety by depriving its users of The Weather Channel's "life-saving" programming. "Given the increasing frequency and severity of weather-related emergencies across the country, access to timely and accurate weather information is imperative for public safety." Hence, the Congressional hotline.
Not everyone is buying The Weather Channel's argument, though. A writer for The Salt Lake Tribune says, "I'm not taking sides here. But I'm sort of insulted that what is a corporate battle is being framed like The Weather Channel is a public service. Or, at least, a public utility."
And DirecTV isn't taking the campaign lying down. A company press release said the provider dropped the network "in response to numerous customer complaints that more than 40 percent of The Weather Channel's programming is dedicated to reality television shows." (Via Deadline)
DirectTV also pointed viewers to WeatherNation, an alternative 24/7 weather network recently added to the DirecTV lineup. The satellite broadcaster positioned WeatherNation on channel 361 — just below The Weather Channel's 362 slot.
TVPredictions.com notes WeatherNation actually got its start as a replacement for The Weather Channel during a 2010 dispute between The Weather Channel and Dish Network. That conflict was quickly resolved and WeatherNation became an independent network in 2011.
An estimated 20 million people subscribe to DirecTV. According to the industry consulting firm SNL Kagan, The Weather Channel charges carriers about 13 cents a month per subscriber, about half of the industry's average rates.