Weather Channel-DirecTV blackout: No end in sight
January 26th, 2014
06:24 AM ET

Weather Channel-DirecTV blackout: No end in sight

By Brian Stelter, CNN

Nearly two weeks into the DirecTV blackout of the Weather Channel, it looks like there's no end in sight.

On Friday, DirecTV Chief Executive Mike White published a letter online blasting television channels for acting like "it's their absolute birthright to be paid more and more each year for the same content they offer, regardless of how many customers actually watch their channels."

White didn't stop there. He asserted that the Weather Channel's total audience has been declining as consumers gravitate to the Web.

"Why should DirecTV customers pay more for a channel they are watching far less?" he wrote.

White's letter was unusual. Television channel owners and distributors usually haggle in private and come up with carriage agreements that both sides can live with.

The dispute between the Weather Channel and DirecTV underscores how contentious the negotiations can become.

Related: Cable TV competition from the Web

White asserted in his letter that DirecTV believes the channel is only worth "one-quarter" of the price the channel wants.

According to research firm SNL Kagan, the Weather Channel earns about 13 cents per television subscriber per month. During the dispute, the channel has said that it's asking for a penny more, while DirecTV is asking it to accept a 20% reduction, or roughly 10 cents per subscriber per month.

The more drastic reduction that White described in his letter is basically unheard of in the television business.

But White's stated logic may appeal to many of his customers: "In every other industry, when the demand for any product is reduced, prices go down, they don't go up. That is the heart of this issue."

In response, Weather Channel spokeswoman Shirley Powell said that DirecTV's decision to drop the channel "has nothing to do with keeping costs down for consumers." She noted that DirecTV recently said it would raise its prices by 4.4% on average.

Related: Verizon bets on future of TV

For his part, White conceded that DirecTV was raising its prices along with other TV providers like Comcast, Dish and Time Warner Cable. But he blamed the content providers.

"[W]e are forced to raise our prices annually due to programmers like the Weather Channel, demanding to be paid more and more each year," he wrote. He said DirecTV "will be forced" to pay 8% more for programming in 2014 and that it was passing on to its customers only a 3.7% increase.

White's letter sent a message to DirecTV customers: Don't switch to another provider, because channels like the Weather Channel are forcing them to raise rates, too.

DirecTV provides television service to about 20 million homes, totaling roughly one in six households in the United States. Before the dispute with the Weather Channel, DirecTV introduced an upstart channel, WeatherNation, as an alternative.

White admitted in Friday's letter that WeatherNation is not an "exact substitute" - far from it - but said it "offers our customers what they want at a fraction of the price."

One of White's main points is the same one that outside analysts have pushed: The television version of the Weather Channel is being cannibalized by the parent company's Web sites and apps. The channel's Weather.com is one of the preeminent sources for online weather information.

"Our customers tell us the Weather Channel is their fourth choice when looking to access weather information," White said. "They first turn to mobile devices and computers for instant weather information and then to local news sources that have a better grasp on local conditions."

Last week, on CNN's "Reliable Sources," I asked Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore if the channel's apps were pulling people away from TV.

"Here's my analogy," he said. "If your knee is starting to ail a little bit, you may go online and see what the symptoms may be. But at the end of the day, you're going to the doctor to find out what's going on with that." The flagship television channel, he said, is the doctor.

But the back-and-forth between the Weather Channel and DirecTV suggests that DirecTV subscribers won't be seeing that doctor anytime soon. To top of page

Posted by
Filed under: Reliable Sources
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. open source DevOps tools

    116694 650630When I initially commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot! 172330

    April 18, 2021 at 7:32 am | Reply
  2. Jacob Medwell

    278842 5986I like your writing style truly loving this site . 636147

    April 8, 2021 at 8:04 am | Reply
  3. have a peek here

    118589 525784Awesome read , Im going to spend more time researching this subject 175441

    April 7, 2021 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  4. Birthday Party

    405145 962392This really is an excellent post and I totally recognize where your coming from within the third section. Perfect read, Ill regularly follow the other reads. 846297

    April 1, 2021 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  5. โกง

    143785 537679I agree completely with what you said. Excellent Stuff. Maintain it going.. 326266

    March 19, 2021 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  6. Sheridan Sista

    Nice weblog right here! Additionally your web site rather a lot up fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your associate hyperlink on your host? I wish my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol


    March 7, 2021 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  7. Wallace Trevathan


    March 6, 2021 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  8. Joaquin Bult


    March 6, 2021 at 1:46 pm | Reply
  9. Tana Kennemur


    March 4, 2021 at 10:25 am | Reply
  10. heavy equipment playground for adults

    commercial playground equipment for home use


    February 24, 2021 at 10:29 pm | Reply
  11. Trent Burdis

    When I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get 4 emails with the identical comment. Is there any means you possibly can remove me from that service? Thanks!


    February 21, 2021 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  12. Karyl Murany

    Thank you so much for giving everyone such a spectacular chance to read critical reviews from this site. It is often so awesome and as well , jam-packed with a great time for me personally and my office mates to visit your blog the equivalent of thrice a week to find out the fresh issues you have got. And lastly, I am also at all times amazed with all the awesome ideas you serve. Certain two ideas in this posting are basically the most efficient we've had.


    January 28, 2021 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  13. Laureen Kanoza

    we use big wall calendars on our offices, big wall calendars are easier to read.


    January 11, 2021 at 10:58 pm | Reply
  14. 카지노 룰렛

    Best view i have ever seen !


    November 30, 2020 at 6:07 pm | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.