The Weather Channel has some new competition, and it's coming from Minnesota.
A new national weather channel called "The Weather Cast" launches at midnight on DISH Network. The new channel will replace The Weather Channel for DISH Network's roughly 14 million subscribers.
The Weather Cast originates from the studios of Weather Nation in Excelsior, Minnesota in the west metro. Weather Nation is owned by Paul Douglas, former Chief Meteorologist with WCCO-TV and KARE11 in the Twin Cities.
The change comes at a time when many viewers and TV meteorologists have criticized The Weather Channel for getting away from the core weather coverage that founded the channel in the early 80s. In recent years, The Weather Channel has shifted programming toward movies, weather based shows, and morning news style weather shows.
DISH network was reportedly also unhappy with The Weather Channel's push to raise subscriber fees.
In terms of the weather business, this could be a huge opportunity for Twin Cities based Weather Nation. Having another viable national weather channel as a competitive alternative to The Weather Channel may lead other cable and satellite TV companies to consider a switch. It also puts the Twin Cities on the map with New York and Atlanta as a provider of national weather content.
From my perspective, this news may come as the equivalent of a nuclear bomb for national cable and satellite weather programming. This is the first time since The Weather Channel's launch that a viable national alternative has appeared. NBC's "Weather Plus" was disbanded after NBC purchased The Weather Channel.
I worked with Paul Douglas in the past at WCCO and have interviewed him many times since for MPR projects. My guess is there are more developments to come as "The Weather Cast" takes hold with a national footprint.
As we say in the weather biz...stay tuned.
Here's the release from DISH Network.
New State-Of-The-Art Service Features All Weather, All The Time
ENGLEWOOD, Colo., May 20, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX News Network/ -- DISH Network L.L.C., America's fastest-growing pay-TV provider, today introduced The Weather Cast, a new 24-hour weather service featuring live round-the-clock weather reporting, interactive forecasting, and real-time national storm tracking. DISH Network is the first and only television provider to offer a national "all weather, all the time" service to its customers. The Weather Cast will replace The Weather Channel, which has recently moved away from weather reporting to a mix of movies and other entertainment-focused programming.
"Our customers always tell us that the only thing they want in a weather channel is weather reporting," said Dave Shull, senior vice president of Programming. "We believe The Weather Cast is the best available weather service in America."
In contrast to The Weather Channel, The Weather Cast devotes 100 percent of its program schedule to weather reporting. There are no movies, no wake up shows and no stories about storms. Further, because its program schedule is all forecasting, it means that The Weather Cast has more time to focus on local weather. The Weather Channel is customized for cable and has never offered satellite customers the localization they require. For more information, visit www.dishnetwork.com/weather.
About DISH Network
DISH Network L.L.C., a subsidiary of DISH Network Corporation (Nasdaq: DISH), provides more than 14.3 million satellite TV customers, as of March 31, 2010, with the highest quality programming and technology at the best value, including the lowest all-digital price nationwide. Customers have access to hundreds of video and audio channels, the most HD channels, the most international channels, state-of-the-art interactive TV applications, and award-winning HD and DVR technology including 1080p Video on Demand and the ViP(R) 722 HD DVR, a CNET and PC Magazine "Editors' Choice." DISH Network Corporation is included in the Nasdaq-100 Index (NDX) and is a Fortune 200 company. Visit www.dish.com, follow on Twitter, @dishnetwork (www.twitter.com/dishnetwork), or become a Fan on Facebook, www.facebook.com/dishnetwork.