The Weather Channel’s visualization of Hurricane Florence’s possible flooding went viral a few days ago, thanks to a frighteningly realistic augmented reality (AR) simulation.
As it turns out, the desperate sell-offs that nearly killed the embattled 36-year-old Weather Channel also transformed the company into one of the world’s most cutting-edge AR tech laboratories.
A tale of two Weather Channels
After broadcasting up a storm in the ’80s, The WC fell on hard times in the ’90s when viewers migrated to the internet.
By 2008, the company had to sell to a private equity consortium. After years of reorganization — and a deluge of clickbait — the network formerly known as The Weather Channel split in half.
In 2015, IBM acquired Weather.com (and all WC’s digital assets) for $2B, renaming it The Weather Company — leaving the TV Channel out in the rain (it finally sold for a bargain price of $300m this March).
IBM’s personal playground for big data
So, if you were wondering how The Weather Channel graduated from bad green-screen drawings to Hollywood-quality special effects so quickly, now you know: it’s IBM’s alimony.