Weather Channel charges premium for content largely available for free

By Shelley Seale


Austin, Texas, USA


Information about the weather seems to be everywhere.

“There’s probably no type of information that is more commoditised and readily available than weather data,” Neil Katz, global head of content and subscriptions at The Weather Channel, told INMA at its Media Subscriptions Summit earlier this year. “We compete with every phone in the world, every Google search in the world, even potted plants that have digital information in them. We compete with the window — you can just look outside and see what’s going on.”

The Weather Channel actually enables many of those platforms to provide weather data for free, and in fact, it has its own audience of about three million people who get its data for free.

“The way we thought of it is, we’re happy that people can get that information. It keeps them safe and plan their lives.”

The way The Weather Channel monetises this otherwise free information is through a smaller segment of users who are willing to pay for more in-depth and more precise information, as well as more powerful weather data tools.

“In our case, we took a look at the usage in our products and the types of data people use most, and then we asked our engineers, ‘Can you create a turboed version of that data?’” Katz said.

For example, users of the free data can get 48 hours of hourly weather forecast. For the premium product that comes with a price, that prediction time is extended to 360 hours. This forecast is also four times more precise.

“That’s kind of the path we take,” Katz said. “How do we create a more powerful version of the thing you might get for free? That’s not for everybody, and that’s OK. We’re totally fine with the fact that 90% of our audience will continue to use our free [offering], and we provide more power and precision for those who need it.”

Banner images courtesy of PublicDomainPictures | annca from Pixabay.

About Shelley Seale

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