She majored in ancient history, but Jennifer Dangar’s job at The Weather Company is to peer into the future to figure out new ways for the Atlanta-based media firm to grow.
Dangar is president of distribution and business development for the company that was until recently known as the Weather Channel. Late last year, the name changed to reflect the fact that much of its growth is coming from specialized products for businesses and Web-based services.
Still, it’s likely it’ll remain best known as The Weather Channel because 24-hour updates reach more than 100 million homes. The company makes a big chunk of its money on per-home fees it charges cable and satellite distributors.
But a lot of future growth will come from mobile devices — those Weather Channel apps on your smart phone that tell you what you need to know to stay dry and safe. Digital weather information brings in a growing chunk of money from advertising for the privately-owned company.
Q: What’s your role at the Weather Company?
A: I oversee distribution of our content on all platforms, across all screens. We have 100 million TV households and I negotiate all those deals for data. Like when you see weather content pop up on your iPhone, that’s my area. If you go to Yahoo.com, that’s our weather. We sell them the data.
I am responsible for our hyper-local platform, a new business focused on expanding strengths in the local space to enhance the core weather experience with relevant lifestyle planning and locally-focused live content.
Q: What else?
A: I leverage long-term relationships to manage through the brutal negotiation landscape that exists, particularly for independents in today’s environment. I also am trying to capitalize on the immense digital reach and scope of the Weather Company.
Q: Most people think of your company as a cable TV network, right?
A: Probably. But we are the seventh most downloaded app on the iPhone. We are the second most downloaded app on all iPads. Some apps are preloaded on Apple operating systems. We also produce apps for the Android, Kindle Fire and Windows mobile and tablet platforms. We also reach people on radio, as well as satellite radio.
Q: What’s your goal at the present time?
A: We want to provide your weather information needs with robust content on every possible screen. If you are not near a TV, you go to your mobile device. We have 220 meteorologists. Our first mission is to keep people safe and prepared. You can sign up for alerts or texts.
Q: Where do TV stations get their weather?
A: Some get it from us. We have a whole business where we sell our radar, all our resources. We have equipment, we provide them with data. And we also have weather.com that provides weather to anyone on the Internet.
Q: Who are other customers?
A: Many TV stations have meteorologists who look at what we provide them. There is nothing more local than weather.
We also provide information to the airlines. We embed meteorologists. They embed with airlines wherever they are needed. We not only give airlines information, but we get information off airplanes. There’s equipment on the wings that send data back. We also sell to energy traders.
Q: What are you focusing on?
A: I’ve secured worldwide deals for weather data with key global brands like Nokia while continuing to roll out Weather in connected cars, on mobile devices, on portals. I’m in charge of incubating a new business that leverages the highly local and ever-changing data set that Weather distributes worldwide across every device.
Q: Is forecasting becoming better?
A: We can forecast and see down to the ZIP code level. The modeling is extraordinarily complex. But we have gotten more and more precise.
Q: Why change a well-known name?
A: Our new chairman came in and felt the name Weather Channel was too limiting. We are an amalgamation of different products and services, online, business-to-business. We lead with Weather Channel, but Weather Company is the umbrella company.
Again, we’re not just people on TV. We have products for businesses, such as weather forecasts for airlines, local TV stations, energy traders. That accounts for some company revenue right now and we’d like to double it in the next few years. We bought Weather Underground, a competitor to weather.com, and also Weather Central. We are going in a lot of different directions.
Q: What is the annual revenue of The Weather Company?
A: We are a private company. We just don’t provide that information publicly. Our revenue stream is advertising, television, Web and mobile. Also, recurring business-to-business data subscriptions, and other revenue, comprised largely of hardware and software, professional products and consumer subscriptions, licensing and syndication.
Q: Who owns the company?
A: We are owned by NBCUniversal and two private equity firms, including Bain Capital.
Q: How many people does the company employ?
A: Around 1,100, including 700 in Atlanta, including probably 200 meteorologists.
Q: Do you do more than weather now?
A: There is some original programming. This is part of the challenge we face. Last night, if you turned on the Weather Channel there was a fishing show, or an outdoors program, a weather impacted situation.
When there is severe weather we want to make sure everybody comes to us as the authority. When there is not a big story to talk about, there are other science and nature programs. We try to focus with the lens of the weather enthusiast.
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MEET JENNIFER DANGAR
Job: The Weather Company, president of distribution and business development
Education: Tulane, B.A. in ancient history
Family: Married with daughter and stepson
Reading: “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain
Activities: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta board member; Fernbank Museum’s corporate development committee; past chair of Women in Cable Telecommunications