From the start, the feud between DirecTV and The Weather Channel has been an ugly one. But with the addition of a full-page ad from The Weather Channel calling out DirecTV in multiple high-profile papers today, things just got worse. Buckle up, weather fans—this one’s gonna be rough.
Advertised in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times, The Weather Channel’s missive reads like something that came from a scorned lover rather than a weather reporting services—which, of course, is what makes it so great. Weather Channel CEO David Kenny penned the ad, slamming DirecTV for dropping the channel.
“Many thousands have called your customer service centers asking to terminate their contracts since they are now getting less content for the same price,” Kenny writes. “But DirecTV is threatening them with termination fees of $200 to $400.”
Instead of continuing to carry The Weather Channel, DirecTV has gone with WeatherNation, which TWC calles “a cheap start-up that does weather forecasting on a three-hour taped loop, has no field coverage, no weather experts.”
DirecTV, for their part, appears to be playing it cool. Well, kind of—DirecTV’s Robert Mercer says TWC has “lost all sense of reality” due to a history of “dramatizing the weather,” so the bitterness seems to be on both sides here.
Which is odd, considering that TWC is an increasingly irrelevant information platform. Weather forecasting is an invaluable service, but often local channels do it better, and with more relevant updates to boot. And, what’s more, pretty much everyone has a weather forecasting machine in their hip pocket thanks to the advent of smartphones. But, still, that doesn’t alleviate the need for weather news for people without strong internet connections or no smartphone to check what it’s like outside.
Which, of course, may explain all the ire we’re seeing on both sides of the argument. One company is struggling with mounting redundancy, while the other appears to just want to be left alone. Either way, this one won’t end well.
Check out TWC’s full ad below:
“January 22, 2014
Mr. Michael D. White
Chairman, CEO and President
Just before midnight on January 13, DIRECTV customers lost access to The Weather Channel.
Since then, over 4 million customers have come to keeptheweatherchannel.com to express their frustration. Over 400,000 have called and emailed DIRECTV. And over 90,000 have pledged to switch providers.
Many thousands have called your customer service centers asking to terminate their contracts since they are now getting less content for the same price. But DIRECTV is threatening them with termination fees of $200 to $400.
We have heard from viewers across the country, like Heather in Texas who wrote, “We just signed on with DIRECTV.…Had I known this was going to happen I would NOT have signed up. I read the fine print (too late) and found that they can do that. It’s wrong.”
We agree. Fairness ought to trump the fine print in your contracts.
The decision to switch providers is never taken lightly. Those who are trying to do so clearly believe The Weather Channel is a valued resource for their families. They are people like @jlawson2011, who tweeted “The Weather Channel saved my life when there was severe weather in my area. Tornado imminent + TWC warning to hide.”
These viewers—your customers—value the fact that since 1982 The Weather Channel has been relying upon the National Weather Service for watches and warnings, which we deliver on a hyper-local basis through our proprietary localization technology.
Your customers were never given a vote about DIRECTV’s decision to drop The Weather Channel. The least you can do is allow them to vote now with their feet by waiving termination fees for those seeking to switch to a provider that still carries The Weather Channel, as every other pay-TV company in the nation does.
Our preference would be for DIRECTV to come back to the negotiating table and restore The Weather Channel to your line up. But as you seem intent on proving a point at the expense of your customers’ interests, then at least allow them to make their own choices without unaffordable penalties.
As our team of more than 220 expert meteorologists tracks winter storms, wildfires in Southern California, and many other potential weather emergencies, a prompt reply—not to me, but to your customers—would surely “Many thousands have called your customer service centers asking to terminate their contracts since they are now getting less content for the same price,” Kenny sniped. “But DirecTV is threatening them with termination fees of $200 to $400.”be appreciated.
David W. Kenny
Chairman and CEO
The Weather Company”