Byron Allen, the comedian-turned-media entrepreneur, has acquired the Weather Channel cable network as he seeks to build his TV and film business, he announced Thursday.
Allen’s Los Angeles-based media company, Entertainment Studios, purchased Weather Group, the parent company of the Weather Channel and Local Now streaming service, for $300 million, according to a person familiar with the terms who was not authorized to comment publicly. It’s the largest acquisition in Entertainment Studios’ history.
The Weather Channel is based in Atlanta and has 400 employees. Entertainment Studios had been seeking a deal for about a year, and talks got serious in the last three to four months.
Allen said his purchase of the Weather Channel is part of a strategic plan to invest billions of dollars over the next five years to acquire media assets. He does not plan to make any major changes to the channel, he said.
“The Weather Channel is a great fit with our portfolio,” Allen said in an interview. “We're going to invest to provide weather news nationally and globally.”
The channel, which once carried the slogan “Weather You Can Always Turn To,” previously was owned by private equity firms Blackstone Group and Bain Capital with Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal. The group bought the network for $3.5 billion in 2008.
Allen’s deal does not include popular digital and mobile outlets such as Weather.com. Technology company IBM purchased those assets from NBCUniversal and the private equity firms for about $2.5 billion in 2015 in a play to bolster its “big data” clout.
The channel itself has become less prominent in recent years as consumers increasingly turn to phone apps for weather information. But Allen said the channel remains an important resource 36 years after it was founded, especially during major storms including last year’s Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey.
“The weather channel has been in American homes for nearly four decades,” Allen said. “Lives depend on it. Livelihoods depend on it. It’s just a great asset.”
Entertainment Studios, founded in 1993, owns a portfolio of channels including Pets.TV and Comedy.TV. The company recently expanded into the film business when it acquired Freestyle Releasing in 2015. The company has released such films as the Mandy Moore shark movie “47 Meters Down” and the Christian Bale Western “Hostiles.”