Weather Channel owner Byron Allen welcomes Murdoch weather competitor

“Now the world will understand how big of a business the weather business is and how important it is,” Allen said.

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Media mogul and billionaire Byron Allen, the owner of theGrio’s parent company Entertainment Studios, says he welcomes the competition from fellow mogul Rupert Murdoch, who is set to debut the 24-hour streaming channel Fox Weather later this year. 

As previously reported by theGrio, Allen’s Allen Media Group announced in June the launch of The Weather Channel’s new subscription streaming service: The Weather Channel Plus. The subscription service will run at $4.99 per month with more than 50 news and entertainment streaming channels offered.

“Rupert Murdoch is very smart; he is the best of the best,” Allen said in an interview with the New York Times. “I am not surprised he’s coming into the weather space. Honestly, I would have been disappointed if he didn’t.”

Byron Allen (Founder, Chairman
Byron Allen, Founder/Chairman/CEO, Entertainment Studios, appears at the Supreme Court of the United States for racial discrimination suit against Comcast on November 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for Entertainment Studios)

Allen said he and Murdoch “had a great time together” when they met recently on the Fox lot in Los Angeles. “Now the world will understand how big of a business the weather business is and how important it is.” 

The Weather Channel Plus is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of this year. Thirty million subscribers are projected in the first five years of this initiative. According to the Times, viewership at CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News took a dive during the first half of 2021, while the Weather Channel’s audience increased 7 percent.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that climate change and the environment will be the story of the next decade,” said Jay Sures, a co-president of United Talent Agency who oversees its TV division. 

“Everyone in media is trying to figure out habitual behavior; everyone wants you addicted,” said Rich Greenfield, a partner at LightShed Ventures and a veteran media analyst. “The reason why weather is so interesting to so many people is it’s something you actually open up every day — daily, hourly, if not minute by minute.”

“The Weather Channel has been voted the most-trusted news brand in America for eleven consecutive years, and the fifth most-trusted brand in America overall, which makes it the perfect brand for a direct-to-consumer streaming platform,” said Allen, Founder/Chairman/CEO of Allen Media Group, in a statement.

Byron Allen
Media mogul Byron Allen (Photo by Getty Images)

“We’ve aggregated some of the best news and entertainment content while keeping it affordable and accessible at the same time. We are highly confident that consumers will enjoy The Weather Channel Plus streaming service for decades to come.”

Entertainment Studios purchased The Weather Channel in 2018, making Allen the first African American to own a major cable outlet. 

“As an African American man hopefully I’m bringing more attention to climate and environment,” Allen told theGrio’s Natasha S. Alford, Vice President of Digital Content and Senior Correspondent for theGrio, in 2019.

Allen made similar comments earlier this year at the virtual TCA session about the existential threat of global warming not being taken seriously enough.

“The Weather Channel had a way of making sure that they didn’t offend folks, and they would never talk about climate change and global warming, because there were some people who said it wasn’t happening, and some people said it was happening,” Allen said.

“I’m going to go with the scientists, because people don’t truly understand that climate change and global warming is the greatest threat to human beings on planet Earth. We have to inform folks so we can help save their lives. I mean, it actually means you’re going to die.”

Meanwhile, Weather Channel’s Nora Zimmett, the network’s chief content officer, hit Fox Weather with a bit of shade.

“I applaud Fox getting into the weather space, but they should certainly leave the lifesaving information to the experts,” said Zimmett, who worked at Fox News in the 2000s.

A Fox Weather spokeswoman clapped back, stating: “While the Weather Channel is focused on trolling for unrelated stories, Fox Weather is busy preparing the debut of our innovative platform to deliver critical coverage to an incredibly underserved market.”

theGrio’s Stephanie Guerilus contributed to this report.

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