The Weather Channel was launched in May 1982; the weather news cable and satellite channel is co-owned by a consortium shared by NBC Universal, Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group. NBC is the major shareholder with 25% of the total shares; the possession of the other two is not exactly known. The news channel has its headquarters in Cumberland, Georgia. The audience share of the channel estimated is over 97.3 million national domestic households. After getting dropped by the Verizon FiOS,it lost the title to HLN; however, the channel is still second most watched weather channel in the states. TWC broadcasts weather news, analysis, special reports and entertainment programming related to the weather i.e. movies and documentaries etc. Many of the terrestrial and satellite radio stations, online news platforms and newspapers are served by the resources and content of the channel.
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The Weather Channel was founded on July 18, 1980, by television meteorologist John Coleman (who, at the time of the channel's founding, had formerly served as a chief meteorologist at ABC owned-and-operated station WLS-TV in Chicago and as a forecaster for Good Morning America) and Frank Batten, then-president of the channel's original owner Landmark Communications (now Landmark Media Enterprises). The channel launched at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on May 2, 1982. Originally, regional and local information was obtained from the National Weather Service for broadcast. Since 2002, all forecasting has been done on-site in Atlanta.
The Weather Channel uses special proprietary equipment that inserts information on current and future local weather conditions, and weather alerts issued by the National Weather Service, the Storm Prediction Center, and National Hurricane Center, if it is viewed on a cable television provider. The original WeatherStar technology has been upgraded on larger cable systems to the IntelliStar, which incorporates "Vocal Local" to announce current conditions, weather bulletins and detailed local forecasts. Subscribers of satellite, IPTV and some smaller cable providers originally saw only a roundup of local TWC-sourced forecasts for major cities across the U.S., as well as national and regional satellite and radar images, and severe weather watch and warning maps when active. However, satellite customers with newer systems or interactive TV receivers have the choice of "roundups" or localized forecasts. For both cable and satellite viewers, popular music (formerly smooth jazz) plays in the background during these segments. Some older WeatherStar units were still in use by small cable companies that could not afford to upgrade to the IntelliStar. The WeatherStar units are also able to overlay text-based local contact information over the national feed during certain business advertisements aired on the channel. The Weather Channel operates a service based on modified versions of the IntelliStar technology called Weatherscan, a separate non-network TV channel which constantly displays local and regional conditions and forecasts, and on some cable systems, advertisements. The Weather Channel also runs websites in Latin America (Canal de Tiempo), Brazil (Canal do Tempo), the United Kingdom (Weather Channel), France (Météo 123) and Germany (Wetter 123). TWC only runs its U.S. channel, although it does produce international forecasts. The Weather Channel also has Weather stations in national universities of the USA (MIT, University of California), UK (University of Oxford, Lancaster University) and Global Meteo Station at the North Pole and International Space Station. A definitive history of the network, The Weather Channel: The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon, by Jeffrey L. Cruikshank and network co-founder Frank Batten, was published by Harvard Business Press in May 2002, in honor of TWC's 20th anniversary.
On January 3, 2008, Landmark Communications put the Weather Channel and its assets up for sale. On July 6, 2008, NBC Universal, Bain Capital and Blackstone Group agreed to jointly purchase the Weather Channel from Landmark, making it the channel's first ownership change in 26 years. The sale was finalized on September 12, 2008. NBC Universal also owned NBC Weather Plus, a rival service which was carried by and featured content from the NBC television network's local network affiliates; that service announced its discontinuation three months later. Over-the-air digital subchannels carrying Weather Plus have since switched to the similarly formatted The Local AccuWeather Channel, kept the Weather Plus engine, or switched affiliations to other networks such as This TV or the Retro Television Network; some have shut down entirely. From November 2008 to February 2009, the Weather Channel laid off seven long-time on-camera meteorologists: Kristina Abernathy, Eboni Deon, Kristin Dodd, Rich Johnson, Cheryl Lemke, Mark Mancuso and Dave Schwartz (Schwartz would return to TWC in April 2014, but died of cancer on July 30, 2016). With the exception of Deon, all had been on the air for more than ten years, and three of them had been employed by the network for more than twenty years. In July 2010, the Weather Channel terminated Bill Keneely, the last of the original on-camera meteorologists who appeared on the network's first broadcasts in 1982. In December of that year, the network also laid off on-camera meteorologist Nicole Mitchell, who later would file a lawsuit against the Weather Channel in 2012, alleging that she had been terminated because the channel's new owners disapproved of the time required by her simultaneous duties as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force Reserve as one of the "Hurricane Hunters" team; such reserve duties are protected by U.S. law (Mitchell later served as the chief meteorologist at Al Jazeera America, which for a time also employed Eboni Deon). Inevitably, the merger of NBC on-air meteorologists began in May 2009. Former NBC Weather Plus meteorologist Todd Santos joined the Weather Channel on May 2 of that year. Al Roker of NBC's Today began hosting a one-hour morning program called Wake Up With Al, alongside meteorologist Stephanie Abrams later in the summer. However, for New York City-based forecasting operations (those utilized for forecasts on MSNBC and CNBC, for instance), the former NBC Weather Plus forecasting, radar and graphics systems remain in place, with banners changed to fit the Weather Channel's graphics scheme. On September 10, 2009, the Weather Channel co-founder Frank Batten died.
In January 2012, David Kenny took over as chief executive officer of the Weather Channel, replacing former AOL executive Mike Kelly, who had been appointed as the company's CEO in the summer of 2009. Although all operations, sales support and marketing and the bulk of employees are located in the headquarters in Atlanta, Kenny declined to move there, and continues to live and work from his home in Boston, visiting Atlanta once or twice per quarter. This is counter to general company policy which discourages telecommuting for the majority of employees. Later in 2012, the Weather Channel's holding company changed its name from The Weather Channel Companies to The Weather Company. The company also purchased competing weather service and website Weather Underground the same year. On March 10, 2015, Verizon FiOS dropped the Weather Channel and WeatherScan for their rival AccuWeather. On September 9, 2015, the channel announced a phased overhaul of its programming schedule during 2016, in which the channel would gradually shift its focus back towards a forecast-based lineup. The channel cancelled Wake Up with Al, citing high production costs in New York city compared to Atlanta. It announced that AMHQ would be refocused on weather, eliminating lifestyle segments, with Stephanie Abrams becoming host and original host Sam Champion as a contributor for its prime time schedule starting November 2. The network also announced it would no longer greenlight original long-form programming, and expanded live forecast programming on its schedule throughout 2016 after all remaining long-form programs already in development concluded their runs. In a memo sent out to network staff by Weather Company CEO David Kenny, it explained its refocus on weather-based programs was done so that "our most passionate fans come to us for the weather and the science behind the weather, not our original shows." Around 50 TWC employees – including production, engineering, and financial staff – were laid off, and the television channel's budget was reduced to shift resources to the company's Internet and mobile properties. The channel's original format was similar to that of a news and information cable network. Since the creation of the series Atmospheres in 2000 and Storm Stories in 2003, the Weather Channel had seen a gradual transition toward a mix of weather forecasting and weather-related entertainment programming that paralleled the launch of sister network Weatherscan, the evolution of the always-on "L" bar/weather ticker, the development of weather.com and popular branded mobile phone applications, and the increased viewing and interest in documentary programs on the topic of weather. In November 2013, the channel introduced a new initiative of "weather all the time" in response to the criticism. All original programming – which was rebranded under the tagline Natural Drama – now had direct relevance to weather-related subjects, and the network emphasized its promise to interrupt original programming either regionally or nationally during major weather events. In addition, the Weather Channel extended the display of its lower display line (which was revamped with a new graphics package) to commercial breaks and through entire broadcasts of its original programs. In August 2015, reports surfaced that the Weather Company's owners were considering a sale of all or part of the venture, having hired Morgan Stanley and PJT Partners to explore their options. On October 28, 2015, it was announced that IBM would acquire most of the Weather Company's assets, including weather.com, Weather Underground, the related mobile applications, and their underlying data platforms, for an undisclosed amount. IBM planned to leverage its Watson technology as part of the acquisition, foreseeing its use for weather analytics and predictions. The deal, which closed the following January, does not include the Weather Channel itself, which remained owned by the Bain/Blackstone/NBCUniversal consortium, and entered into a long-term licensing agreement with IBM for use of its weather data and "The Weather Channel" name and branding.
In August 2016, reports surfaced that Sinclair Broadcast Group had expressed interest in acquiring ownership of the Weather Channel. On March 22, 2018, Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios announced its acquisition of the Weather Channel's television assets from the NBCUniversal/Bain/Blackstone partnership. The actual value is undisclosed, but was reported to be around $300 million. The channel's non-television assets, which were separately sold to IBM two years prior, were not included in the sale. In the early morning hours of April 18, 2019, the Weather Channel was temporarily unable to air live programming due to what they called a "malicious software attack" on their network. Previously taped shows were aired while engineers worked with backup equipment, and live programming returned to normal within a few hours (at the time, AMHQ). As of May 2019, the investigation into the malware attack was still active.