Though Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and local broadcasters went
wall-to-wall with storm-related news, Weather ranked No. 1 among
cable news networks in total viewers from 3 a.m. Sunday to 3 a.m.
Monday, with 2.03 million viewers.
Even so, the ratings increase might not do much to buoy
Weather's ad revenue, said Derek Baine, analyst at SNL Kagan. From
January through September, ratings for the network were down 18.5%,
and even with the ratings boost, Mr. Baine expects Weather's ad
revenue to end the year in negative territory. He did note that
Weather.com is doing better than the core TV channel.
"It's about weather first, not any one particular screen," said
Mr. Hecht. "Marketers come to us because they want to be connected
to the weather on whatever device [the content is ] being
During Sandy, for example, the network streamed its live TV
coverage on YouTube for the first time. Its feed was also available
for free on its own website.
"The storm has the potential to impact 50 million Americans and
is being watched around the world; we need to be on every
platform," Mr. Kenny said. "Many will lose power. ... We need to
keep them connected."
TV commercials did not run in Weather.com's stream, but State
Farm sponsored a banner during commercial breaks. According to
GeoSurf Plus , an online-media advertising-software firm,
Weather.com had 37 advertisers running ads in the three days of the
storm, up 68% from the few days before Sandy. The site hosted 56
different ad executions and 11 of the 37 campaigns were new.
Digital-advertising revenue makes up about 45% of Weather's ad
sales. In the short term, executives don't foresee digital
overtaking TV, but if mobile continues on its current growth
trajectory, that could change.
In the aftermath of Sandy, Weather's challenge becomes keeping
those viewers coming back post- storm. Already under way is a
revamp of its pro- gramming away from prime-time reality and
entertainment programming only loosely tied to weather to shows
that focus more on the science behind the weather. "There's a place
for reality and 'infotainment,' but we need to stay true to our
brand," Mr. Kenny said.