Big Weather Broadcaster News: WSI buys WeatherCentral

August 9, 2012

There was a huge announcement in the weather broadcast community today, probably the most important one so far in my career.  WSI (Weather Services International) announced its purchase of Weather Central.  Here’s the press release on the Weather Channel page, which owns WSI:

Most of you have probably never heard of these companies, but here’s the lowdown:

WSI and WeatherCentral sell weather graphics systems and data for 80-90% of all television stations in this country.  They have been the two main players for about 20 years.   There was a 3rd, Kavouras, bought out by WeatherCentral about 10 years ago.  Since WeatherCentral is based in Wisconsin, they seem to have a heavier percentage of stations in the Midwest, or at least that’s my perception.    WSI is based out of a Boston suburb and has been known in the past as a much better data provider; more choices for satellite, numerical model grids etc…  When weather broadcasters get together at a conference, generally one of the first questions whispered during a boring presentation is “…do you have WSI or WeatherCentral?“.  And generally loyalties have been strong, for example I’ve only used WSI during my 19 years on TV here in Portland (geez…I’m getting old).  I’ve always been happy with WSI, since (at least in the past) their systems seemed to be geared more for a person that likes to get into the computer and make new content.  WeatherCentral (once again, in th

Now WSI has bought out its competition.  They will have a near monopoly of television weather graphics systems.  WSI also recently bought Weather Underground.  This likely doesn’t bode well for owners of the stations.  No more “fine, we’ll just go across the street and get one of those systems instead“.  I’ve been part of that game in the past.

Here in Portland we (KPTV) & KOIN use the exact same WSI graphics system.  KGW & KATU use WeatherCentral.  So now we will all be getting our data and weather graphics systems from one company.  Of course a lot of what the graphics look like and do are directly related to the person running the computer; thus the different features you actually end up seeing on TV every day.  So even if we all end up on the exact same system 5 years from now, they’ll still look different.  Plus it’ll take time for the WeatherCentral systems to “die off”.

It’ll be very interesting to see what capabilities we gain here at FOX12 from the integration of the two companies.  I’ll be attending a WSI User Group and American Meteorological Society Broadcasters Conference in Boston in a little over a week; I’m sure it’ll be all the buzz at both of those.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen