For the first time, fans of the Weather Channel can access the climate-centric network without a traditional cable, satellite or streaming pay television subscription.
Last week, the Weather Channel quietly updated its smartphone and tablet apps to offer users access to a streaming version of the cable channel for $3 a month, the first time the channel has been offered as a standalone streaming network unbundled from a traditional pay television subscription.
The move comes as the Weather Channel faces increasing competition from streaming-only upstarts like WeatherNation, AccuWeather Now and Fox Weather. Unlike those streaming channels, which are free to access and supported by advertisements, the Weather Channel will still require some sort of subscription in order to access; in the past, the cheapest way to access the Weather Channel without cable was to subscribe to Frndly TV, which offered the climate network in its base subscription package that starts at $7 a month (or $9 a month for high-definition access).
“This is a huge step for The Weather Channel television network, as we expand access to our best-in-class weather news and entertainment content,” Byron Allen, the owner of the Weather Channel’s parent company Allen Media Group, said in a statement. “Our upgraded app allows subscribers to tailor their TV viewing experience to their location and needs. As many regions in the country prepare for the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, it was very important to launch this new app experience to ensure that our life-saving weather information is available to everyone, 24-7.”
A free, seven-day free trial of the standalone Weather Channel subscription streaming service is available to new customers. The service is offered on Amazon Fire TV and Android TV (Google TV); it will eventually make its way to Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Xfinity’s X1 (Flex) platform and Vizio’s SmartCast.
The Weather Channel will still offer a “TV Everywhere” stream that will be free to access with supported cable or satellite login credentials. In addition to Frndly TV, the channel is carried on premium streaming platforms Fubo TV, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV and DirecTV Stream. Of those, YouTube TV is the cheapest option, charging subscribers $65 a month for access to dozens of other channels. The others start at $70 month.