Updated at 11:31am EST with a statement from The Weather Channel.
Verizon FiOS customers woke up to a surprising email this morning: they will no longer have access to The Weather Channel. Verizon’s reasoning was that, essentially, the internet—with its myriad apps and widgets to get real-time weather updates—makes a channel like The Weather Channel dispensable.
Verizon offered a nearly identical statement on its website, saying its agreement with The Weather Channel had expired and that it would be replaced with the AccuWeather Network. Verizon will also host a version of the new network on its mobile app.
It’s possible that Verizon will merely leverage this into reacquiring The Weather Channel at a price it deems more reasonable. Last year, DirecTV dropped The Weather Channel for similar reasons, saying that it was broadcasting too much reality television in lieu of actual weather reporting. Indeed, in recent years, even The Weather Channel has fallen victim to the indistinguishable swamp of American cable television, offering a slew of reality programming that you might not be able to differentiate from the shows on any number of other cable channels. After acknowledging that its programming needed to be more weather-focused, The Weather Channel agreed on a new deal with DirecTV.
Update: David Blumenthal, spokesman for The Weather Company (which owns The Weather Channel), gave this statement to Quartz:
We were disappointed when, without warning late yesterday, March 9, Verizon FiOS dropped The Weather Channel from their lineup while our companies continued to be in active conversations regarding a contract renewal. FiOS customers have enjoyed a bundle of services from The Weather Channel including the network, WeatherScan, On Demand, a Weather Widget and streaming on mobile devices.
During a winter with record-breaking storms and severe weather, The Weather Channel responded with non-stop live coverage, including the ongoing presence of our crews reporting live from hard-hit communities within the Verizon FiOS footprint. This coverage resulted in The Weather Channel being the only major cable network to grow in February.
After recently renewing carriage agreements with NCTC, Cox and Time Warner Cable, we are surprised Verizon FiOS would deny their subscribers access to the best live weather coverage and expertise that only The Weather Channel can provide. We urge FiOS customers to contact Verizon and voice their displeasure.
Perhaps, though, Verizon’s decision to cut ties with The Weather Channel could mean the beginning of the end of weather on your television set. I, for one, have not looked to my TV for weather updates in years. I can get all the information I desire from my phone or computer in half the time it would take to pull it up on my television set. Verizon’s move to intergrate AccuWeather Network into its own mobile app shows that the company is acutely aware of these things.
In any event, some FiOS customers were not happy, and voiced their displeasures on Twitter.
The Weather Channel personality Jim Cantore chimed in as well.
While the AccuWeather Network may be a perfectly acceptable replacement for most people, storm enthusiasts have a reason to be upset. The network doesn’t track storms or national weather emergencies in real-time the same way The Weather Channel does.