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The Weather Channel turns 30, launches more social website

Thirty years ago today, The Weather Channel was born, a network dedicated to providing essential information 24 hours a day on TV. The social web didn’t exist in 1982, but today the TV brand boasts 60 million unique monthly visitors, the #2 all-time downloaded iPad app, the #5 all-time downloaded iPhone app and a massive social reach that includes a unique partnership with Twitter to curate real-time conversations around the weather.

As part of their celebrations they’ll be sharing birthday wishes from celebrities and more on their Twitter and Facebook accounts, and anyone who checks in to The Weather Channel on GetGlue today will receive a special sticker. The network is also launching a brand new sleek and simplified website built with “new personal, social and local features.”

We spoke with Mike Finnerty, vice president of weather.com and web products for The Weather Channel Companies about the big announcements:

Lost Remote: Congratulations, on the 30th birthday – how are you using social media to celebrate the big occasion?

Mike Finnerty: We’re celebrating the anniversary in full force across social media. The official hashtag on Twitter is #30yearsofTWC. We have some intriguing videos – which we’ll encourage people to share on social – featuring our on-camera meteorologists like Jim Cantore and Eric Fisher delivering personal forecasts to celebrities. This was a great way to really highlight the new, more personal experience on weather.com. We’re also releasing fun videos on our social networks looking back at 30 years of weather.

o From Dolly Parton and Will Ferrell to the local postal worker, people explain why The Weather Channel has played such an important role in their lives.
o Sometimes it is all fun and games here at The Weather Channel. Take a look back through the last thirty years at some of our most memorable ‘not-so-serious’ moments.
o The Weather Channel takes you back 30 years to its first broadcast and shows you how far it’s come. Hear from The Weather Channel meteorologists and executives who explain what it took to bring the network to where it is today.

LR: What are the new social features of Weather.com? Will any of them be used with linear?

MF: There are several new social features of weather.com, including the ability to “Love” or “ugh” your current weather and share via social networks, as well as check out what weather keywords are trending in your area via Twitter (rainy, cold, windy, etc). Also, with the Social Emergency Broadcast System, you can share severe weather alerts across your social networks. An upcoming phase to this system (tentatively scheduled for June) will allow you to see who in your Facebook network is affected by severe weather, so you can be the first to let them know what to expect.

Many of our social integrations are used across platforms – for example, we currently showcase trending Twitter weather keywords on-air twice an hour, users can submit a photo via our Twitter, Facebook, or iWitness weather experiences and we’ll post it on weather.com, or a comment on Facebook can become part of a show on The Weather Channel.

LR: Why does social TV matter to The Weather Channel?

MF: The Weather Channel is a leading digital publisher and media company with an unparalleled audience size and is aggressively expanding digital touch points with strategic partnerships, content developed across platforms and best-in-class mobile applications. From a strategic standpoint, The Weather Channel has double-downed on digital and strives to move from one-way communications (experts telling the weather) to creating a two-way conversation empowered by social tools. Social TV provides yet another way to continue to engage with our users on multiple platforms.

LR: What new programming will The Weather Channel be launching?

MF: To celebrate, TWC will air special programming across platforms – television, online and mobile – including a look back at the first 30 years of The Weather Channel, how technology and weather forecasting has changed, coverage of the most significant severe weatherevents, and bloopers through the decades. Beyond the 30th anniversary celebration, for the first time in our history, we’re rolling out an entire slate of original series this year, with at least one new series premiering each month. We’ll also extend these shows to our digital platforms with exclusive web & mobile content and interactive experiences. While each series has its own distinct personality – from “Coast Guard Alaska” to “Lifeguard!” to “Iron Men” and more – they all have the common thread of weather as a major character in the show.

LR: What percent of revenue comes from digital versus linear?

MF: We don’t share our revenue numbers, but considering the scale of our digital audience and technology leadership, we’re not your average media company.

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