The Weather Company, eager to expand beyond its usual fare of snow and storms, announced three new original web series on Monday that will feature athlete amputees, virus pandemics and disaster survivors.
The company says advertisers can be exclusive sponsors of the shows, which consist of six 2 two to four-minute episodes across four screens: smartphone, tablet, web and cable. The shows are titled “I am Unstoppable,” “Virus Hunters” and “Alive,” and will be shown this fall in addition to three other already-announced web series.
For the Weather Company, the original web series are an attempt to tap digital dollars while also expanding its content offerings — which include the Weather Channel and Weather.com — beyond forecasts and national disasters. Weather’s digital editor-in-chief, Neil Katz, announced the details as part of Newfront, a series of events in New York at which video creators are trying to woo Madison Avenue.
The web series comes at a time that the Weather Company is emerging as a formidable data and advertising company. Recently, the company has been comparing itself to Google insofar as it allows marketers to sell in real time based on users’ likely intent — an ice cream company, for instance, could display its ads while the sun is out. It has also been hiring veteran data and ad tech executives.
On the social media front, the Weather Company has been creating personalized products like a custom Twitter forecasts and, as an executive described today, a “social emergency network” that can let people use Facebook to warn loved ones in a given region about an impending weather apocalypse. It has also been expanding its original TV content.
The Weather Company’s mass audience makes it attractive to advertisers but its histrionic style — which can feel like tragedy tourism — has also attracted ridicule. After a snowfall this year in the northeast, for instance, Gawker displayed a series of screenshots to explain how “Snow panic has driven Weather.com completely Insane.” The company also gained attention for “Torturing its interns with Twitter” — a social media stunt for “tornado week” that involved high-powered fans aimed at interns.