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The Weather Channel took 20 seconds out of every other commercial break yesterday to brag that they'd preempted programming to talk about the weather, because we live in a world where The Weather Channel has to use advertising time to tell its viewers that it's going to talk about the weather.
That the 32-year-old Atlanta-based weather behemoth has to expend the time and effort it takes to actually make and edit a 20-second piece that says "tonight's scheduled programming is cancelled to bring you the weather" is beyond parody. I've begun to wonder if The Onion secretly bought The Weather Channel and turned it into the television branch of Clickhole.
The preemption blurb is just good enough to make the casual viewer say "well, they're finally getting back to their roots," but just superficial enough to appear to everyone else as a steaming heap of sleet. The Weather Channel telling viewers that they're preempting programming to talk about the weather is like CNN issuing an apology for cutting into Don Lemon's MH370 Mystery Hour to talk about news.
When The Weather Channel finally caved in to DirecTV's demands after the channel's four-month blackout on the satellite carrier, it agreed to halve the amount of reality programming the channel airs during the week in order to compete with WeatherNation, the station's main (and only) competitor.
To get back on the 20 million-subscriber service, Weather Channel has agreed to reduce reality programming by half on weekdays; return instant local weather and allow DirecTV customers to watch The Weather Channel's video programming on multiple devices inside and outside the home, so long as they can prove they are subscribers.
There are two Weather Channels. There's Weather Weather Channel and Corporate Weather Channel.
I have nothing against Weather Weather Channel, made up of the meteorologists who work for the company. They're pretty cool people and solid scientists. I idolized Jim Cantore growing up. Dave Schwartz is my favorite meteorologist of all-time. Dr. Greg Forbes is one of the greatest severe weather experts we've got.
The network's meteorologists know weather and they do it damn well — save for the winter storm names, of course.
The issue with The Weather Channel is the NBC side of the operation; Corporate Weather Channel. They're the out-of-touch financial center that panders to the lowest common denominator and forces their on-camera talent to say crap like "leftern side of the screen" or segue into a three-hour block of Freaks of Nature.
DirecTV caught Corporate Weather Channel with their pants down and now they're scrambling to change course with a crosswind, and they expect us to applaud them for it. "Look! We're talking about weather again because we have to! Love us!"
The Weather Channel is doing what it's supposed to do — talk about the weather. Not too many people get upset anymore that The Learning Channel shows Honey Boo Boo and The History Channel follows around a bunch of swamp people simply because they don't pretend that they're still focused on learning or history. They're learning and history in name only.
The Weather Channel, though, always angled itself as the premier weather authority in the United States. There was once a time when people turned to the channel by default when dark clouds loomed on the horizon. But they abandoned their legacy while keeping up the pretense, and that's where they went wrong. You don't get applauded for dropping your disingenuity because DirecTV hit your bottom line.
To top it all off, in some twelfth-dimensional meta statement about the network, the preemption promo is almost always preceded by an advertisement for the network's new show Fat Guy in the Woods — brought to you by the producers of Network B Roll of Stomachs — which throws three "fat guys" into the woods for a week and chases them around with cameras for eight episodes.
"It's amazing out there," indeed.
[Video via The Weather Channel]