Weather Channel's Shull: Cable channel won't be part of any digital sale to IBM

While IBM closes in on a reported $2 billion purchase of his company's associated digital properties, Weather Channel CEO Dave Shull released a statement today clarifying that the linear cable channel will remain under its existing ownership group.

Weather Channel CEO Dave Shull

Shull

"The Weather Channel will continue to be owned and supported by our existing shareholders -- Bain Capital, Blackstone and NBCUniversal​ -- and operate as a standalone business," he said in a statement. ​"The Weather Channel operates as a distinct and separate business with its own leadership team, which enables this to be a smooth and seamless transition."

Citing unnamed sources, the WSJ reported that IBM's deal to acquire the digital and data assets of Weather Co. could be inked as soon as today.

IBM reportedly believes that it can use the Weather Channel's forecasting technology to build new products. For example, IBM may use the technology sell smartphone apps to insurance companies that would alert their customers to pending threats to personal property. 

In August, Bloomberg reported that The Weather Channel's owners -- which acquired the company for about $3.5 billion in 2008 -- have hired banks Morgan Stanley and PJT Partners Inc. to explore a sale. The business is being valued at around $3 billion, with much of that due to the channel's digital operations that stretch across Weather.com, Weather Underground and Weather Services International.

The linear channel, meanwhile, has struggled to maintain carriage with top pay-TV operators.

Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) FiOS service dropped the Weather Channel in March, explaining that "in today's environment, customers are increasingly accessing weather information not only from their TV but from a variety of online sources and apps." Verizon said it would instead direct its users to its own AccuWeather Network.

In his statement, Shull said the channel is still relevant. "Each month, almost half of all American households tune in to The Weather Channel network for coverage of severe weather, daily forecasts, and the science behind the weather," he said. "With our world class weather experts and thousands of localized versions of the network, we are uniquely positioned to provide the world's best storm coverage as a hyper-local streaming service ​as well. We are continuing to invest in our strategic partnerships with our distributors, advertisers, and emerging technology start-ups."

For more:
- see this TechCrunch article
- read this Wall Street Journal story

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