Fox News launches its own mobile-friendly weather service

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Media is entering another restless world — the weather.

The company is launching Fox Weather, a free streaming service and app that it says will be used most frequently by customers on their mobile devices.

In preparation for Monday’s debut, Fox assembled a team, picking staff from The Weather Channel and markets in New York, Houston, Phoenix, Miami, Charlotte, North Carolina and elsewhere.

According to experts, advances in weather technology and interest in climate change and more powerful storms have made weather information a popular area to invest in.

“That’s all we’re talking about,” said Sharri Berg, president of Fox Weather. “We might as well build a platform for that.”

Fox Weather is entering a market dominated by longtime players like The Weather Channel and AccuWeather – both of which have been busy creating their own new products – as well as aggressive niche players.

When Berg scrolls through the weather apps, she says she sees many specialized services that focus on things like surf conditions or wind. Besides convenience and clarity, Berg said one of Fox’s biggest selling points will be providing a single destination for people to get a lot of things – local forecasts (with 3-D radar), severe weather warnings , weather-related reports, and a video feed that operates like a traditional television network.

“It’s not so much about reinventing the way you tell the weather story, it’s just about improving it,” said Steve Baron, Fox Weather’s senior vice president for digital products and strategy. .

Byron Allen, owner of The Weather Channel, seemed almost giddy at the prospect of another challenger.

“I’m just a kid from Detroit pinching myself to compete with Rupert Murdoch, one of the greatest media moguls of all time,” Allen said. “It is an honour for me.

“I would have been disappointed if he hadn’t come to weather space, because it’s a great space, and it’s an important space,” he said. “We certainly don’t care about the competition.”

Next year, The Weather Channel will launch subscription streaming services so people who have given up on cable will have access to their programming. It will also launch a Spanish-language streaming service.

Allen pointed to consumer surveys that highly rate The Weather Channel as a news source. “They know we are reliable and trustworthy,” he said. “You don’t get this overnight. It’s won. »

Similarly, Jonathan Porter, senior vice president and meteorologist at AccuWeather, pointed to the accurate forecasting services the company has built over many years that are provided to consumers and businesses, even many owned TV stations. at Fox.

“Fox will need to demonstrate that it can make up for not having all of these capabilities at launch,” Porter said.

Some of the Fox News Media products — like the Fox Business Network streaming service and Fox Nation — are ideologically comfortable for viewers of the main Fox News channel. This begs the question of whether the same would be true for Fox Weather. While executives from The Weather Channel and AccuWeather have stressed that their services are paying attention to the impact of climate change on global weather, several Fox News commentators have expressed skepticism about it.

“We’re not debating it or ignoring it,” Berg said. “It’s part of the way we live now. We’re going to translate it and base it on science and data, that’s what we’re focusing on. It is a 100% pure weather product and weather centric platform. »

In addition to more powerful storms and larger wildfires, the science of forecasting has also changed. New robust computing technology has dramatically improved predictive ability, and experts say it has also sparked consumer interest.

AccuWeather, for example, introduced a MinuteCast service in 2016 and has continuously improved it since, offering highly accurate forecasts of, for example, when it might start raining on one side of town. There’s no way a similar service could have worked two decades ago, Porter said.

Along with technology, Berg said she believes Fox is building a weather news team like no other.

“I think Fox Weather is entering the weather space at the right time, and I think we’re building it on the right platform,” she said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Comments are closed.