By DAVID BAUDER, AP Media Editor
NEW YORK (AP) – Fox News Media enters another hectic world – the weather.
The company is launching Fox Weather, a free streaming service and app that it says will be used most often by customers on their mobile devices.
In anticipation of early Monday, Fox has assembled a team, bringing together staff from The Weather Channel and markets in New York, Houston, Phoenix, Miami, Charlotte, North Carolina and elsewhere.
Advances in weather technology and the interest created by climate change and more powerful storms have made weather information a popular area to invest in, experts say.
“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 heading into 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 specialist services that focus on things like surf conditions or wind. Along with convenience and clarity, Berg said that one of Fox’s main selling points will provide a one-stop destination for people to get many things – local forecasts (with 3D radar), severe weather warnings, news reports. weather and a video stream that works like a traditional television network.
“It’s not so much about reinventing the way you tell the weather story, it’s just about making it better,” 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 me 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 the weather space, because it’s a big space, and it’s an important space,” he said. “The competition certainly doesn’t bother us. “
Next year, The Weather Channel will introduce subscription streaming services so people who have ditched cable have access to their programming. It will also launch a streaming service in Spanish.
Allen pointed to consumer surveys that rank The Weather Channel as a high source of information. “They know we are reliable and trustworthy,” he said. “You don’t get that overnight. It’s won. “
Likewise, Jonathan Porter, senior vice president and meteorologist at AccuWeather, pointed out the precise forecasting services the company has built up over many years that are provided to consumers and businesses, even to many owned TV stations. at Fox.
“Fox will have to demonstrate that they can make up for not having all of these capabilities when they launch,” Porter said.
Some of the Fox News Media products, like the Fox Business Network and Fox Nation streaming service, are ideologically comfortable for viewers of the main Fox News channel. This raises the question of whether the same would hold true for Fox Weather. While executives at The Weather Channel and AccuWeather have emphasized that their departments 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 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 a weather centric platform.
In addition to more powerful storms and larger forest fires, the science of forecasting has also changed. Newly robust computer technology has dramatically improved forecasting ability, and experts say this has sparked consumer interest as well.
AccuWeather, for example, introduced a MinuteCast service in 2016 and has steadily improved it ever since, offering very 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.
In addition to technology, Berg said she believes Fox is building an unparalleled weather information team.
“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.
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