Byron Allen Acquires The Weather Channel As Part Of A $300M Deal

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Comedian, TV producer and media mogul Byron Allen has agreed to buy Atlanta-based The Weather Channel through his privately held company, Entertainment Studios, as part of a $300 million deal.

Allen has acquired the Weather Group, parent company of The Weather Channel TV network and Local Now streaming service.

The sellers are two private equity groups — Blackstone Group and Bain Capital — and media giant Comcast NBC Universal. They bought the TV network in 2008 from Landmark Communications for a reported $3.5 billion. At the time, the channel was one of the most distributed in the U.S., according to Hollywood Reporter.

“Clearly, for Bain, Blackstone and NBC/Universal, this was not a profitable investment the past decade,” according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog:

“I think it shows the diminished value of the Weather Channel, which used to be a staple and indispensable for any cable operator,” said Phil Swann, who runs tvanswerman.com. “It’s not anymore.”

The deal does not include digital assets including the Weather.com site and the Weather Channel app.

The Weather Channel offers local and national storm updates along with programming series such as “American Super/Natural,” morning show “AMHQ”, “Highway Thru Hell”, “Hurricane 360” and “So You Think You’d Survive?”

Ratings for The Weather Channel rose 14 percent to an average 248,000 primetime viewers in 2017 when hurricanes and fires dominated headlines.

Byron Allen
Illustration:Ozy

At one point in 2017 with hurricanes Irma and Harvey, the Weather Channel aired 188 consecutive hours of live weather coverage.

Acquiring The Weather Channel is strategic, Allen said in a press release. It’s the beginning of ‘our process of investing billions of dollars over the next five years to acquire some of the best media assets around the world.’”

A comedian-turned-entrepreneur, Allen is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Entertainment Studios. He started the company in 1993, deciding to focus on building wealth behind the scenes in Hollywood. The company became the largest independent producer of first-run syndicated programming, according to Deadline. In 2009, Allen launched six 24-hour HDTV networks: Pets.TV, Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV, Cars.TV, ES.TV, and MyDestination.TV.

In the past few years Allen has been producing and distributing indie films, acquiring Freestyle Releasing in 2015. Recently movie successes include “47 Meters Down” and Scott Cooper’s “Hostiles”. In 2018, Allen’s films include Toronto Film Festival buys “Chappaquiddick” and “Replicas”.

“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,” Allen said in a press release. “We welcome The Weather Channel, which has been seen in American households for nearly four decades, to our cable television networks division.”

Allen settled a racial discrimination case against AT&T in 2014, Variety reported. That distribution helped him fund the Weather Channel purchase, Swann told AJC. “You might remember him as a comedian but he turned out to be a really shrewd businessman.”

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