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Scripps’ WeatherSphere buy underscores interest in mobile weather-checking

E.W. Scripps’ acquisition of WeatherSphere, a publisher of paid weather mobile applications, including three top-10 App Store paid weather apps, points to the public’s interest in doing more of its daily activities on mobile, including checking the weather.

The WeatherSphere portfolio, which has 3 million active users, will exist alongside Scripps’ existing paid weather app, StormShield. Although Scripps currently has no plans to sell ads on its newly acquired apps, it didn’t rule out the possibility of doing it at some point.

“Our key is to build on the apps WeatherSphere built, leverage the radar?engine WeatherSphere created and look at other options for new products on?the market,” said J.B. Kropp, vice president of digital strategy and business development, for media company Scripps.

“We have no mobile advertising campaigns planned at the moment, but we are open to exploring all options to produce the best possible experience for digital consumers.”

Undisclosed terms

No ads are sold on the apps currently.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

WeatherSphere makes seven apps, including Lightning Cast, WeatherAlerts and RadarCast. They warn consumers of a hurricane, tornado or other severe weather through their use of radar images, forecasts and sirens. The apps typically cost between $1.99 and $3.99. One is free.

Scripps’ StormShield weather app provides emergency alerts to consumers through smartphones and tablets.

The acquisition comes three months after Cincinatti-based Scripps said it would combine its broadcast operations with Milwaukee-based media company Journal Communications Inc. and spin off their newspaper businesses into a new company, called Journal Media Group. It will own and operate TV and radio stations in 27 markets and the digital businesses.

Weather is one of the most popular forms of mobile content and is universally consumed around the globe. It is important for mobile device users to have immediate access to reliable and contextually relevant weather information to help them make informed choices about their day-to-day and long-term plans.

On-the-go consumers are drawn to mobile as a channel for getting weather news and information because of its ability to deliver it no matter where they are.

AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, early leaders in mobile marketing, have explored new mobile user experiences to more deeply integrate their strategies.

The Weather Channel’s app once showcased a Subway campaign that only took place in the morning from 5 to 11 a.m. to advertise its breakfast menu items. Another TWC campaign saw Wendy’s berry frosty products served only served when it was more than 75 degrees out.

Mobile connection

The Weather Channel also relaunched its iPad app to connect more effectively with customers on mobile.

The iPad app displayed local London weather conditions alongside images of relevant products, such as sunglasses and umbrellas, which were updated dynamically based on changing weather conditions and temperatures.

AccuWeather’s app includes a customized series of weather alerts as well as lifestyle forecasts catering to health concerns related to fitness, travel and outdoor pursuits such as fishing and gaming.

Users of AccuWeather’s mobile Web site have access to 80 hours of hourly forecasts, 45 days of extended weather forecasts, and AccuWeather’s MinuteCast hyperlocal weather forecasting service.

“Given the increase of mobile consumption, we are excited to have Raghav [WeatherSphere founder and CEO Raghav Gupta] and his team join Scripps to continue to help us grow our relationship with digital consumers around weather,” Mr. Kropp said.

“This acquisition represents our commitment to creating best in class mobile products that deliver benefit to our consumers on a local and national level.”

Final Take

Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.