Weather Channel on the Sales Block

Jan 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The Weather Channel is on the block.
Norfolk, Va.-based Landmark Communications last week said it intends to sell the Weather Channel and its Web site, Weather.com, for an estimated $5 billion. Also potentially for sale are Landmark’s other media properties, including more than 50 newspapers such as the Virginian-Pilot and the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C.
Landmark Chairman-CEO Frank Batten Jr. said in a statement, “At this early stage, we cannot speculate on where this process will lead. We will consider various options and, at the end, we will advise employees and customers of our conclusions.”
Landmark will retain investment banks J.P. Morgan and Lehman Brothers to help the company pursue options in the selling off of its businesses. A Weather Channel spokeswoman could not confirm any further details of the sale.
The Weather Channel and Weather.com have already attracted interest from major media companies including NBC Universal, News Corp. and Comcast, all of which could profit from the network’s growing on-air ad revenue and especially Weather.com’s heavy traffic online, the New York Times reported Jan. 3.
The site ranked eighth on Ad Age’s first list of top Web brands in March 2007, with average monthly unique visits totaling 37.8 million, according to Nielsen//NetRatings, making it the most-trafficked site of any TV network online.
Although Weather Channel doesn’t have as long an average viewing time as its other cable counterparts, Weather.com has managed to thrive as a Web brand despite offering the same service that any local news site or major Web portal provides. Joe Fiveash, the site’s general manager, told Ad Age in March, “That’s all we do, we don’t do 10 other things. … Consumers pick up on that. And the URL reinforces that,” he said.
The Weather Channel, currently in 96 million homes, is one of the last privately held cable networks on the market. In August 2007, women’s cable network Oxygen announced it would be acquired by NBC Universal for $950 million, while Crown Media’s Hallmark Channel has been rumored to be seeking major-media ownership for months now.


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