‘A fun adventure, not a business’: The Weather Channel stopped publishing video on Facebook
The Weather Channel is no longer publishing videos to Facebook.
“[Facebook video] hasn’t been beneficial,” said Neil Katz, global head of content and engagement at The Weather Channel, during a speech at the Digiday Video Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona. “It has been good for Facebook, but it hasn’t been good for us.”
Over the past few years, The Weather Channel built up a network of six pages on Facebook that grew to 500 million video views per month by last May, according to Katz. (For comparison, The Weather Channel’s main page was down to 1.8 million views on Facebook in April, according to Tubular Labs.) The Weather Channel’s Facebook presence included its main page as well as “weather-adjacent” science, nature and travel verticals such as Rockets Are Cool, Crazimals and United States of Awesome.
“We went along for the ride every single step of the way,” Katz said. “But we noticed, over the course of two years, that we were being paid in all types of currencies — followers, shares, views — that did not feel like money.”
The Weather Channel was part of Facebook’s funding program for live and on-demand news feed videos and also produced three shows for Facebook Watch last fall. The Weather Channel’s deal to produce live and on-demand news feed videos for Facebook, for which Katz said it received a seven-figure fee, shined a light on how difficult it is to make money on Facebook. Paid to produce a predetermined number of minutes per month, The Weather Channel found it was only making $28 per minute of video produced. For comparison, Katz pointed out how the CBS reality show “Survivor” cost $45,000 per minute to make in 2009.
Even during big weather events such as Hurricane Harvey, when The Weather Channel would cut and distribute hundreds of videos on Facebook and capture a lot of views, Katz said revenue was close to negligible.
“That was a wake-up call to let us know that though this was a fun adventure, it was not a business,” Katz said. “We’re not watching the cash register when these events happen, but later on, when we do the financial analysis, we want to understand if we were revenue-positive — and on TV and [nonsocial] digital, these are profitable events.”
Katz didn’t lay all of the blame on Facebook, however, as he argued that publishers should bear some responsibility for being too eager to work with and distribute their content on Facebook.
Not all is lost, though. Enough people still come to The Weather Channel’s website and apps to ensure the brand remains relevant and meaningful. “Turns out, we have a good business,” said Katz, adding that The Weather Channel’s sites and apps receive 6 billion visits, up 25 percent year over year. It’s an area The Weather Channel will continue to focus on, not the least of which because it’s a platform the publisher can fully control.
For more on what the industry is saying about the evolving world of video, subscribe to our weekly video briefing email.
French advertising organizations lodge complaint with competition regulator over Apple privacy changes
The coalition of trade bodies allege Apple's upcoming changes, related to its identifier for advertisers, are a sign of it leveraging its dominant position to distort competition.
‘Great position to steal share’: As use-it-or-lose-it ad spending picks up, TikTok emerges as an unlikely beneficiary
TikTok could emerge as one of the unlikely winners during the end-of- year scramble from advertisers to dump as much of their media dollars as possible.
CNN, Tastemade and ForwardPMX are Digiday Marketing and Advertising Awards Europe shortlisters
As an unprecedented health crisis has swept across the globe, marketers and advertisers across Europe have been forced to communicate with consumers in unprecedented ways.
SponsoredBrands are tapping gameday energy to drive engagement with content on social
As the world adjusts to the new normal, sports and entertainment publishers are faced with a challenge — with live audiences no longer able to take their seats at stadiums and arenas, how do they get passionate fans involved in the energy of the moment on social media? From the NBA to MTV, publishers had to […]
Bloomberg Media tunes up ABBA to break down barriers between its ads and subscriber businesses
The business news publisher's ad ops and product groups now sit in the same organization as its subscriptions team.
The 74’s publisher Jim Roberts on bridging equality divides in education and making trust bonds with audiences
One of The 74's central focuses before the pandemic was the achievement gap in America's education system.