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Weather Channel Begs Customers to Switch

Douglas A. McIntyre

Each day that passes, The Weather Channel continues to plead  for its viewers to switch from DIRECTV (DTV), which has stopped running its content, over to carriers Dish, Optimum, or xfininty. "Pledge to switch" is a message on its website.  This website is increasing the center of The Weather Channel's viability. But DirecTV continues to resist negotiations, increasing The Weather Channel's big problem.

Perhaps The Weather Channel believes it can appeal to DIRECTV shareholders, at least as a means to make them worry about the satellite provider's subscriber base:

Research conducted since The Weather Channel was removed from the lineup on DIRECTV after the satellite provider refused to come to a market-based contract renewal, underscores the importance of the life-saving, most-trusted channel to its viewers. Eight percent of those polled said they would switch providers in the wake of the loss of The Weather Channel. An additional 22 percent of DIRECTV subscribers said they would strongly consider a switch. The polling results among DIRECTV subscribers, when translated to DIRECTV’s full subscriber base of more than 20 million households, suggests the number could add up to a loss of more than 1.6 million subscribers.

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Of course, intent is not the same as action. It is hard to imagine millions of DIRECTV subscribers abandoning the hundreds of other channels to come to the aid of one. The Weather Channel could have over played its hand.

The age of broadband has harmed The Weather Channel as well. Its site had 61.2 million unique visitors on desktop computers in December, according to comScore. This does not include millions of others who access the site on tablets and smartphones. The TV has become more and more obsolete as the medium for instant information. This change undermines The Weather Channel's ability to force DIRECTV to act in the financial self interest of The Weather Channel.

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According to The Wall Street Journal,

DirecTV CEO  chief executive Mike White says the Weather Channel is worth only "one quarter of the price" the channel wants the satellite operator to pay, underlining how far apart the companies are in the fee dispute that has blacked the channel out on the satellite service for 10 days.

Ten days is a long time, particularly when The Weather Channel customers have so many options.

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