The Weather Channel has laid off 80 of its behind-the-scenes employees over the past two months, amounting to about six percent of its total staff. The company characterizes these cuts as the end of a "reorganization."
40 of the layoffs occurred last month, with the remaining 40 taking place on Wednesday. A company spokesperson told TVNewser that the cuts were necessary to help The Weather Channel adjust to a changing landscape:
"The television business is shifting and in order for us to compete in the future, we need to reallocate and better focus our resources on what we know our audiences want," the spokesperson says. "The changes we are making today are necessary, difficult and the responsible way for us to move forward."
The network doesn't elaborate on how exactly the television business is shifting, but suffice it to say, that shift includes less weather and more reality shows. The network recently ordered a second season of Fat Guys in the Woods, which plops a couple of cubs in the forest to munch lichen while a survival expert talks down to them for thirty minutes (plus commercials and Local on the 8's, of course). The second installment of Scruffy Huffing Woodsfest will stand alongside their other quality programming, Highway Thru Hell and American Super/Natural, the latter of which posits pressing questions like "what is the dew point of a ghost?"
As WLKY meteorologist John Belski notes on the station's weather blog, The Weather Channel's ratings have fallen over the past couple of years down to around 214,000 daily* viewers. The network doesn't even crack the top 25 most-watched cable networks, pulling ratings 79% lower than bottom-of-the-list Lifetime. The network's heavily-visited website has also slipped in recent years, falling to the 34th most-visited site in the United States according to Alexa, coming in behind Yelp (#31), Bing (#21), and Tumblr (#15).
[Image: The Weather Channel | *Update, 11/14/14: David Clark, President of TWC, informs me that the 214k value is concurrent viewers—the network nets 7 to 8 million viewers per day.]