Just as its deal with Weather Channel is about to expire, DirecTV has been quietly rolling out a network that some are calling a threat to Weather Channel, the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Although talks between the two companies are ongoing, DirecTV’s decision to add WeatherNation is seen as a not-so-subtle threat that it is willing to drop the Weather Channel,” the story notes.
The report adds: “Not only is DirecTV carrying WeatherNation, a small channel with very little reach or viewership, it has placed the network next to the Weather Channel on the dial, a move that could confuse viewers — and has already annoyed Weather Channel executives.”
DirecTV is seeking to lower programming costs at a time when sports programming is increasingly expensive. As a result, some distributors are looking to pressure smaller programmers to cut their rates.
The carriage deal between DirecTV and Weather Channel expires at the end of 2013. The network charges about 13 cents per subscriber each month, the story notes, citing SNL Kagan.
The threat of losing DirecTV as a distributor comes at a sensitive time for the Weather Channel, given that the channel has hired popular “Good Morning America” weatherman Sam Champion and is seeking to broaden its appeal and viewership.
“Not only will Champion instantaneously become the biggest face on the network, he will also serve in an executive role as managing editor,” the story notes.