The deal is done. NBC Universal announced Sunday that it had bought The Weather Channel and weather.com from Landmark Communications. Terms weren’t disclosed, but the price was believed to be right around $3.5 billion, as previously reported. NBCU was joined in its bid by two private equity funds, Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group. The Weather Channel is to be operated as a separate entity, based in Atlanta, with management services to be provided by NBC Universal.
"This will further position NBC Universal as the leading provider of news, information and weather, both online and on television. Joining with The Weather Channel properties plays to our strengths in developing and programming cable networks, and in producing and distributing high-quality content across multiple platforms," said NBCU President & CEO Jeff Zucker.
"When Landmark launched The Weather Channel more than 25 years ago, we could never have imagined that it would become the multi-platform leader which 120 million people use monthly. While we are extremely proud of how far we’ve come, I know that as part of the NBC Universal consortium, The Weather Channel and its employees will have increased opportunities for growth," said Landmark Chairman and CEO Frank Batten Jr.
Landmark has also put its two television stations, newspaper group and other media properties up for sale, but The Weather Channel was the crown jewel and certain to bring the big payoff for the Batten family. Frank Batten Sr., now 81, has been actively distributing his wealth to philanthropic endeavors in recent years.
RBR/TVBR observation: There is a big strategic play in this for NBC affiliates. The Weather Channel, far and away the biggest name in television weather, is now going to be joined at the hip to NBC’s Weather Plus local DTV multicast channel carried by all NBC O&Os and many affiliates. Not only that, but we would expect tie-ins between not only the local Weather Plus channels, but also the main NBC local stations with weather.com, one of the most trafficked sites on the Internet. And that’s a global Internet brand for NBCU, not just a US site.