Verizon can’t do anything about the weather — but it just rained on The Weather Channel, taking it off the lineup for its 5.6 million FiOS video customers. Beginning today they can watch or stream AccuWeather Network or find the weather in their zip code areas via a FiOS TV WeatherBug “widget” accessible on channel 49.
While cost was a factor, the distributor says it also decided to not renew its contract with TWC. “In today’s environment, customers are increasingly accessing weather information not only from their TV but from a variety of online sources and apps,” it says.
TWC’s parent company says it was surprised by the decision, made “while our companies continued to be in active conversations regarding a contract renewal.” The package under discussion included the network, WeatherScan On Demand, a Weather Widget and streaming on mobile devices. The company statement says FiOS customers lost “the best live weather coverage and expertise that only The Weather Channel can provide.” It urged customers to “contact Verizon and voice their displeasure.”
TWC says the teams are no longer negotiating “despite our desire to continue to serve their subscribers.”
Last year DirecTV dropped TWC for about three months. The network wanted a price increase, and the satellite company wanted to cut its outlay saying that TWC too often offered reality programs such as Deadliest Space Weather and Coast Guard Alaska instead of the latest local weather. In an unusual twist, when the dispute was resolved TWC chief David Kenny apologized to “DirecTV and their customers for the disruption of our service and for initiating a public campaign” against the satellite company.
Comcast’s NBCUniversal co-owns TWC with Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group. Many industry watchers expect TWC owners to sell at some point. But Kenny told Bloomberg TV in November that the idea wasn’t on the table. “Our owners really like our plan,” he said. “We’ve got a growing business. We’ve got a lot of innovation. And we believe in it. And I think in the long run the operators need to make a decision on each channel as to how it stands. I don’t know where bundling will end up, but for us we think we’ve got good value – a good value proposition on our own. And we’re focused on that.”