Despite a conspicuous lack of carriage on Verizon (NYSE: VZ), and related rumors that the network is now for sale, Weather Channel TV Group President Dave Shull said his indie network is in a good place with the top MVPDs.
"I think we have good relationships with all the big guys," he said to FierceCable. "Obviously, we're still off Verizon -- we're continuing to have dialog there. But we have good relationships with the other folks [in the pay-TV business]."
Shull, who joined The Weather Channel in May after spending more than a decade in various executive roles at EchoStar and Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), made his comments while discussing his channel's just-announced TV Everywhere plans.
For the first time, The Weather Channel will enable live authenticated streaming on its website. Users can access the network live online by going to weather.com's "Live TV" section, where they will be required to sign in using the username and login they use for their TV provider.The network is still working on a dedicated TVE app for mobile streaming. Multiscreen access for the network had previously been confined to the TVE apps supplied by various pay-TV operators.
"There's always a little tension between programmers and distributors when you're driving [digital] traffic away from the operator and to the programmer's website," Shull said. The fact that The Weather Channel is now able to direct traffic to its own site, which averages 77 million unique users each month, reflects stabilizing relationships for the network with operators.
The Weather Channel was blacked out on DirecTV for three months last year. It's been off Verizon since March.
In August, Bloomberg reported that The Weather Channel is moving ahead with a sale of the company that could split the business into a cable channel and a much more valuable digital operation. The move comes as pay-TV operators including Verizon have declined to carry the Weather Channel, noting that more and more users are obtaining weather information from the Internet.
Bloomberg reported that the owners of the Weather Channel -- Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and Comcast's NBCUniversal acquired the company for about $3.5 billion in 2008 -- have hired banks Morgan Stanley and PJT Partners Inc. to explore a sale. The business is being valued at around $3 billion, with much of that due to the channel's digital operations that stretch across Weather.com, Weather Underground and Weather Services International. The companies involved in the topic declined to comment to Bloomberg.
- read this Weather Channel press release
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