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The Weather Company Is in Talks With IBM About Sale of Digital Assets

The computing giant and the weather kingpin recently inked a strategic alliance around emergency management software.

IBM / The Weather Company

The owners of the Weather Channel are in advanced talks with IBM about the sale of its digital assets, according to sources close to the situation.

The Weather Company has been mulling a variety of such plans for more than a year, as has been widely reported, talking to a number of different parties about buying either parts or all of its troika of assets.

Those include: The product and technology division, which offers a range of digital weather information via apps and websites and also data sets; the television division, with the flagship cable property, the Weather Channel; and a large meteorological team, providing weather forecasting for a variety of consumer and also business sectors such as aviation.

Sources said that nothing may come of the discussions with IBM, but there is likely to be some transaction for the Weather Company in the coming months.

The Weather Company is currently owned by two private equity firms — Blackstone Group and Bain Capital — as well as NBCUniversal. The trio paid $3.5 billion for the company in 2008.

Sources said NBCU was not bidding for the cable TV channel; while it is available in 100 million U.S. households, its actual viewership is not large, nor is it growing, a fact that Weather Company CEO David Kenny noted recently.

In fact, NBCU owner Comcast wrote down its investment to $86 million in an earlier quarter this year, taking $250 million in value off its stake.

But IBM has a big interest in Weather Company products, recently signing a strategic alliance with its global B2B division, WSI. In a press release, the pair described an “emergency management solution that features sophisticated analytics and the use of real-time weather data to help communities predict and plan for natural disasters far more accurately and deploy the right resources in advance.”

It’s part of a bigger effort by IBM around working with local governments in the cloud computing arena. Sophisticated weather analysis would be a strong addition to other offerings such as a law enforcement cloud database that IBM is building.

Spokespeople for the Weather Company and IBM declined to comment.

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