Weather Channel moving away from unscripted

The U.S. cable net will be letting go of approximately 50 employees as it shifts its programming focus back to live weather coverage. (Pictured: Fat Guys in the Woods)
September 10, 2015

U.S. cable net The Weather Channel is letting go of approximately 50 employees as it shifts its programming focus away from original programming and back to live weather coverage.

In an internal memo, Weather Channel Television Group president Dave Shull told staff that the company was going to “focus on our unique strength – and that is the weather.”

Shull said the company needed to cut back its investment in “areas that are not unique to the Weather Channel,” including “original non-weather entertainment programming.”

Shull added: “We will continue to invest in finding creative ways to explain the weather, but we will no longer greenlight any long-form shows.”

According to the memo, more live hours will be added to the network schedule once the shows currently in development are aired.

The memo also cited a move to “prioritize weather expertise over production” as one of the major changes the network plans to implement going forward.

In an interview with CNN Money’s Brian Stelter, Shull and Weather Company CEO David Kenny said they expect the network’s ratings will be impacted in the short term by the shift away from reality programming, but the channel will come to be seen as “more of a service,” according to Kenny.

Unscripted shows airing on the network included Prospectors, Fat Guys in the Woods and the soon-to-premiere Natural Born Monsters.

Mary Ellen Iwata, vice president of original content development for The Weather Channel since 2011, departed from the network in the summer.

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