Who owns The Weather Channel? Owner Byron Allen predicts massive growth in the next decade

The Weather Channel

The Weather Channel is the trusted weather news source for many American homes. It broadcasts weather forecasts and analysis as well as entertainment programming related to weather. Viewers can access 24-hour automated local forecasts and radar imagery through its sister network Weatherscan. 

Despite launching the subscription streaming service The Weather Plus, The Weather Channel remains one of the few networks unaffected by the switch from cable TV to streaming. As of late 2018, more than 79 million households watched The Weather Channel via a pay television service. 

The world’s ever-increasing focus on climate change will surely benefit The Weather Channel’s owners in the coming years. 

The Weather Channel’s owner Byron Allen wants anchors to address climate change fearlessly

Byron Allen
Byron Allen, Owner and CEO Of The Weather Channel (Courtesy of CSQ Magazine)

In March 2018, comedian turned media mogul Byron Allen acquired The Weather Channel through Allen Media Group for a reported $300 million. 

Allen described The Weather Channel as an essential network ‘with information vitally important to the safety and protection of our lives.’ He described the acquisition as the first step towards more extensive investments in the media. 

“The acquisition of The Weather Channel is strategic, as we begin our process of investing billions of dollars over the next five years to acquire some of the best media assets around the world,” Allen said via a statement

David Shull, CEO of The Weather Channel, welcomed Allen’s acquisition of the network. “Byron Allen’s purchase of our innovative and forward-thinking organization will increase the value we bring to our viewers, distributors and advertisers,” Shull said. 

Byron Allen said that under his stewardship, The Weather Channel wouldn’t shy away from broadcasting facts, whether or not it offends people. During a virtual TCA session, he said that people need to seriously address climate change and global warming. 

He said that The Weather Channel would embrace a fact-oriented approach that sides with scientists’ views on climate change:

“I’m going to go with the scientists, because people don’t truly understand that climate change and global warming is the greatest threat to human beings on planet Earth. We have to inform folks so we can help save their lives. I mean, it actually means you’re going to die.”

The Weather Channel’s perspective will offend people, many of whom will likely refuge on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Weather. Allen described Rupert as ‘the best of the best.’ “I am not surprised he’s coming into the weather space,” Allen told The New York Times. “Honestly, I would have been disappointed if he didn’t.”

The extreme weather events of current years – record wildfires, increased and vicious hurricanes, scorching heatwaves, prolonged droughts, and torrential rainfall – have increased viewership on weather channels. Rupert and Allen’s competing entities should do alright in the coming years. 

“Now the world will understand how big of a business the weather business is and how important it is,” Allen said. 

IBM owns the non-television assets of The Weather Channel

IBM / The Weather Company
IBM / The Weather Company

IBM purchased the non-television assets of The Weather Channel in 2016 from NBCUniversal, the Blackstone Group, and Bain Capital. The sale included The Weather Channels digital assets and forecasting technology.

IBM gained ownership of The Weather Company, leaving The Weather Channel unchanged. The Weather Channel contracted IBM to provide it with analytics and weather forecast data. 

Despite the deal, IBM has turned into one of The Weather Channel’s main competitors. IBM is reaping the benefits of an acquisition that seemed misguided several years ago. 

A study released in July 2021 found that The Weather Company is the world’s most accurate forecaster. Company executives pointed to investments in advanced forecasting and artificial intelligence technology as the forces behind The Weather Company’s accuracy. 

“A forecast is most helpful when it comes from a recognized, trusted source, and the pursuit of accuracy is at the foundation of what we seek to provide to help customers, consumers and marketers to make important decisions every day,” Sheri Bachstein, CEO of The Weather Company, said

The Weather Company provides free weather updates via its app. However, more people are opting to pay for an ad-free experience with data, including premium radar forecasts. 

The Weather Channel has responded by launching the subscription streaming service The Weather Channel Plus. It’s double the price of The Weather Company’s service, but it offers more news and entertainment. 

The Weather Channel hopes to attract thirty million subscribers in five years. Byron Allen predicted that The Weather Channel Plus would be an overwhelming success. He said:

“The Weather Channel has been voted the most-trusted news brand in America for eleven consecutive years, and the fifth most-trusted brand in America overall, which makes it the perfect brand for a direct-to-consumer streaming platform.”

Founder Frank Batten Sr. invested in John Coleman’s vision of a 24-hour news channel

Frank Batten Sr and John Coleman
Frank Batten, left, in 1981 with John Coleman (Photo – Marty Lederhandler/Associated Press)

John S. Coleman, the original meteorologist on Good Morning America, dreamed of launching a 24-hour news channel, but nobody wanted to invest in it. TV weather had limited 3-minute slots on local news programs, which Coleman felt weren’t enough. 

Coleman’s commitment to the idea never waned even when multiple media houses laughed him away. John recruited Joseph D’Aleo to help him craft his 24-7 weather channel concept. 

“He was dedicated to everything he did; he’d sometimes take off after the morning shows, get on an airplane, go halfway across the country and meet with venture capitalists to present his idea,” D’Aleo told The New York Times. “He was sort of a weather rock star at the time.”

A year into failed meetings with investors took its toll on John. However, Frank Batten, chairman of Landmark Communication, breathed life into John Coleman’s idea. Batten was a sailor, and therefore, more in tune with the weather than other media house bosses John had met.

The startup costs were astronomical, and the financial crisis in 1983 threatened to sink the fledgling company, but it weathered the storm. In 1984, The Weather Channel started charging cable systems a monthly fee per basic subscriber. 

Subscription fees and increased interest from advertisers made The Weather Channel a profitable venture. By 1993, 54 million subscribers had access to The Weather Channel.

John Coleman, the man with the billion-dollar idea, had long left the company by then. Coleman was pushed out of his post as CEO and chairperson after he lost a fight for financial control of the company. 

Nevertheless, nothing could change that 24-hour weather broadcasting was his brainchild. In his 2002 chronicle, The Weather Channel: The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon, Frank Batten wrote that journalists mocked the concept during its announcement.  

In two decades, those journalists had changed their tune, referring to The Weather Channel as a media marvel. John Coleman settled in Southern California, working for KUSI-TV in San Diego. He gained notoriety for referring to global warming as ‘non-event, a manufactured crisis and a total scam.’

“There is no significant man-made global warming at this time, there has not been any in the past and there is no reason to fear any in the future,” Coleman pinned atop his blog