Byron Allen continues to expand his Entertainment Studios media holdings with the purchase of The Weather Channel basic cable TV network. Through his company Allen Media, Allen has acquired the Weather Group, parent company of The Weather Channel TV network and Local Now streaming service, from The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and Comcast/NBCUniversal.
No dollar figure has been revealed, but according to sources the purchase price was around $300 million.
“The Weather Channel is one of the most trusted and extremely important cable networks, with information vitally important to the safety and protection of our lives,” said Byron Allen, Founder, Chairman, & CEO of Entertainment Studios. “We welcome The Weather Channel, which has been seen in American households for nearly four decades, to our cable television networks division. The acquisition of The Weather Channel is strategic, as we begin our process of investing billions of dollars over the next five years to acquire some of the best media assets around the world.”
Allen, a comedian-turned-entrepreneur, has been growing his Entertainment Studios, which became the largest independent producer of first-run syndicated programming. In 2009, Allen launched six 24-hour HD television networks: Pets.TV, Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV, Cars.TV, ES.TV, and MyDestination.TV.
In the past few years he has also emerged as an indie film producer and distributor acquiring Freestyle Releasing in 2015. His recently movie successes include 47 Meters Down and Scott Cooper’s Hostiles, and his 2018 pics via Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures include Toronto Film Festival buys Chappaquiddick and Replicas.
With the acquisition of The Weather Channel and Local Now, Allen now expands into live and local cable news. The Entertainment Studios divisions now include broadcast television syndication, production, and distribution of more than 41 programs; eight 24/7 cable television networks; theatrical motion picture production, acquisition and distribution; digital movie acquisition and distribution; and global news publishing – making Entertainment Studios one of the largest privately held media companies in the world.
Entertainment Studios is 100% owned by Allen, who started the company from his dining room table 25 years ago.
Bain Capital and NBCU bought The Weather Company from Landmark Communications in 2008 for around $3.5 billion before selling off the company’s digital assets for more than $2 billion to IBM in 2015, including the popular Weather.com wesitbe, which carries the Weather Channel name.
The Weather Channel is widely distributed, available in roughly 88 million U.S. homes. Like most basic cable channels, it has struggled with ratings declines due to cord-cutting. Despite partial NBCU ownership, Weather Channel has faced challenges as a stand-alone network with limited leverage in carriage negotiations with distributors, and has faced competition from upstart rival AccuWeather. The Weather Channel also has been affected by people’s growing reliance on the Internet and mobile devices for weather updates.
The Weather Channel had been for sale before. In 2016, Sinclair Broadcast Group reportedly was in talks with its owners, offering to acquire the channel for $100 million.
Following the acquisition by NBCU and Bain Capital, The Weather Channel experimented with longer-form programming and big-name talent, like Today’s Al Roker and Good Morning America‘s Sam Champion, before recently refocusing on its bread-and-butter forecast-based lineup.
“We are excited to join Entertainment Studios, and we are especially proud to be part of one of the largest emerging global media companies,” said Dave Shull, CEO of The Weather Channel. “Byron Allen’s purchase of our innovative and forward-thinking organization will increase the value we bring to our viewers, distributors, and advertisers.”
Allen’s acquisition of The Weather Channel through his wholly-owned Allen Media LLC was represented by the law firms Sklar Kirsh, Nelson Mullins, and Loeb & Loeb. The Weather Channel was represented in the transaction by the law firms Ropes & Gray and Jones Day, and its financial advisors included Morgan Stanley, Allen & Company, and PJT Partners.