Today, The Weather Channel revealed a new slate of programming and immersive mixed reality upgrades to their live weather presentation, as well as additional updates to the Local Now news service, at its Upfronts media breakfast.
The channel first announced a new partnership with interactive design consultancy The Future Group, utilizing augmented reality content to deliver custom, immersive mixed-reality experiences for its viewers. Viewers, The Weather Channel said, will soon see tech normally used in video games Fortnite and Star Wars used to recreate towns and local street corners and accurately determine the paths and damage caused by tornadoes, hurricanes, and storm surges.
Michael Potts, vice president of design for The Weather Group, said: “Our immersive mixed reality (IMR) presentations will combine 360 HD video and augmented and virtual reality elements that are driven by real-time data and our expert on-air talent to transport our audience into the heart of the weather."
He added: "Using The Future Group’s Frontier powered by Unreal Engine for weather broadcasting has never been done before. We are excited to continue our investment in the latest technologies that are not just cutting-edge, but on the bleeding edge of design and science.”
Lawrence Jones, head of North America operations for The Future Group, continued: “TFG’s Frontier enhances the amazing capabilities of Epic’s Unreal Engine specifically for broadcast and we are very excited to be pushing the creative boundaries of real-time mixed reality for TV with the Weather Group and Epic."
It also announced that it will double its investment in weather-related original programming for 2018, and will have 85 hours of premiere shows, including the fall 2018 debut of Killer Weather, the network’s first foray into forensic meteorology and showing how weather has helped conceal and solve crimes.
The newly owned network within Bryon Allen’s Entertainment Studios venture has also said that tire manufacturer Michelin is the inaugural partner for the Local Now platform. The brand has planned a slate of custom on-air content for OTT viewers.
Streaming service Local Now has also been revamped, and beginning this spring, You.i TV will be the new software technology platform for it to help develop an improved, personalized experience for its audience.
Said Marvin Renaud, senior vice president of digital for both Local Now and The Weather Channel's television apps: “We’re excited to bring Michelin’s message to audiences across the country through Local Now, which allows viewers to receive local information straight from their communities in a new and innovative way. Like us, Michelin is an innovative company and together, we’re advancing the way Americans access and consume news and information.”
“Michelin’s collaboration with The Weather Channel has reminded drivers consistently about the importance of tire safety when weather conditions make driving unpredictable,” said Yahn Heurlin, vice president, B2C marketing for Michelin North America. “Michelin cares about delivering safety on the road when it matters most.”
This marked the first announcement from the weather network since Byron Allen purchased the weather network's parent company The Weather Group in late March, pulling the properties from Comcast/NBCUniversal and adding them to his stable of entertainment networks.