Comedian-turned-media-entrepreneur Byron Allen struck a deal to acquire the Weather Channel from Comcast Corp. and private-equity firms Blackstone Group LP and Bain Capital for $300 million.
Mr. Allen said Thursday that he is buying the Atlanta-based television network through his company, Allen Media LLC.
The head of Entertainment Studios Inc., which owns eight cable networks such as Pets.TV and Comedy.TV and produces movies and television shows, Mr. Allen said the widely distributed Weather Channel will provide leverage to expand the rest of his holdings.
“It is a stronger relative to help pull us along,” Mr. Allen said. He plans to acquire other independent media assets to better position his company in the wake of consolidation among bigger media firms, including AT&T Inc.’s purchase of satellite broadcaster DirecTV and proposed acquisition of Time Warner Inc., which is being challenged in court by the Justice Department.
The Weather Channel, which began airing on linear TV in 1982, offers local and national storm updates along with programming series such as American Super/Natural, morning show AMHQ, Highway Thru Hell, Hurricane 360 and So You Think You’d Survive? In 2017, as hurricanes and fires dominated headlines, ratings for the channel rose 14 percent to an average 248,000 primetime viewers.
“The Weather Channel is one of the most trusted and extremely important cable networks, with information vitally important to the safety and protection of our lives,” Allen said Thursday in a statement. “We welcome The Weather Channel, which has been seen in American households for nearly four decades, to our cable television networks division. The acquisition of The Weather Channel is strategic, as we begin our process of investing billions of dollars over the next five years to acquire some of the best media assets around the world.”
“We are excited to join Entertainment Studios, and we are especially proud to be part of one of the largest emerging global media companies,” said Dave Shull, CEO of The Weather Channel. “Byron Allen’s purchase of our innovative and forward-thinking organization will increase the value we bring to our viewers, distributors and advertisers.”
With the addition of the network, Entertainment Studios will own eight linear television channels focused on lifestyle topics, including pets, recipes and cars. Allen has also been active in the film and television acquisition space, snapping up acclaimed movies like Christian Bale’s Western Hostiles and Ted Kennedy biopic Chappaquiddick and planning a sequel to the breakout indie shark thriller 47 Meters Down.