WeatherNation offers ‘central-casting’ for mid-market stations

wxnation2WeatherNation, a company founded by former WCCO-TV meteorologist Paul Douglas, who was outsted from the Minneapolis station in 2008, is offering white label weather forecasts for mid-market stations, cable outlets and Web sites at this year’s NAB Show.

The venture has built an HD studio facility in the outskirts of Minneapolis where it produces unbranded weather forecast segments. Stations can select from a 42-inch monitor position as well as a 65-inch touchscreen area. Graphics can be branded to each station’s unique look and font, according to the firm’s Web site.

As of note is a lighting system that, according to the company, shifts subtly based on the current conditions of the market.

The company seems to be marketing toward mid tier markets and, according to a 2008 interview with Broadcasting & Cable, Douglas says he isn’t necessarily looking to replace meteorologists but rather fill the gap in weekend or off-peak shifts. The company also says it won’t try to pretend it’s in the local market.

WeatherNation is an interesting concept. It’s interesting to note that, at least at this point, it’s not trying to replace local forecasters altogether like the ill-fated News Central concept tried at Sinclair stations. This is a good way of approaching the model in that it will (hopefully) still mean local talent can be retained, something that would be particularly valuable during severe weather coverage. WeatherNation could free up local staff to do more in-depth field reporting while letting the Minneapolis facility focus on the nitty-gritty weather maps and data as well.

However, it wouldn’t be surprising, in this economy, to have a station outsource its entire weather operation.

Successfully match its clients branding is also key. The company’s set, pictured here, is fairly generic but may not fit the look and feel that all stations want.

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One strength WeatherNation brings to the table is its ability to deliver bilingual forecasts. This service could be in higher demand.

Douglas is no stranger to startups. He previously owned 3D graphics company EarthWatch, which he sold for $3 million in 1997. Another venture, Digital Cyclone, was sold to Garmin for $45 million. He also has a hand in TheWeatherClub.com, a kind of social networking site for weather enthusiasts.

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