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Weather Channel’s Weak Ratings Raise Questions as Fox Preps a Direct Challenger

In 2020, the Weather Channel averaged 134,000 viewers, according to Nielsen

Fox is angling to compete in the weather-content space long dominated by the Weather Channel with a new streaming network set to launch later this year. But how is the Weather Channel really such a ratings powerhouse?

In the fall, Fox News Media will roll out Fox Weather, its eighth platform, to join offerings like Fox News, Fox Business Network, Fox Nation, Fox Books and more. As cable news sees declines in ratings, it’s clear that interest in news is waning following the end of Donald Trump’s presidency and the downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump may not be firing off tweets anymore, but the weather is always up to something — and people always want to know what it is.

That said, the Weather Channel’s ratings are pretty low as cable channels go. A Tuesday analysis by The New York Times pointed out that Weather Channel’s total viewership is up 7% over last year, but a closer look at the numbers reveals that’s not exactly a huge get.

In 2020, the Weather Channel averaged 134,000 total daily viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research ratings data. Of those, 32,000 were in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25 to 54. So far this year, the Weather Channel has garnered 144,000 total average viewers, with 31,000 of those in the demo. That’s a 7% increase in total viewers, but a 3% decline in the demo. Among cable networks, the Weather Channel has been the 46th most-watched channel year-to-date. Fox News, MSNBC and CNN are the top three, respectively, and are followed by HGTV and ESPN.

Notably, the Weather Channel’s average total viewers don’t even touch cable news’ demo viewers. Year to date, Fox News has pulled in an average of 1.257 million viewers, for instance, and 213,000 of those have been in the key news demo. CNN’s demo viewers so far this year have numbered at 253,000, while its total average viewers have been around 994,000. Even MSNBC, which has the fewest demo viewers in cable news, secured more viewers from 25 to 54 than Weather Channel has averaged in total for the year: MSNBC got 165,000 total average demo viewers this year along with an average of 1.105 total average viewers of all ages.

While the Weather Channel’s ratings are far from great, that Times analysis noted that the network is also seeking to digitize and, like Fox News, capitalize on the growing streaming market with the release of Weather Channel Plus.

Last month, Fox News Media announced the hiring of six meteorologists — Jason Frazer, Britta Merwin, Craig Herrera, Brigit Mahoney, Nick Kosir and Stephen Morgan — to host morning, daytime and evening programming. Notably, the Times analysis revealed that Shane Brown, formerly a top meteorologist at the Weather Channel, recently moved over to the new Fox streamer, too.

A representative for the Weather Channel did not immediately return a request for comment on how they’re gearing up to take on Fox. A rep for Fox had no comment.