This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

The Digital Skeptic: Government Has Bad Forecast for Weather Companies

For all of The Weather Channel's star power or the crowdsourced data from Weather Underground or custom computer models from an operation such as Earth Networks, the 8,000-pound weather content gorilla is the computer models, analysts and atmospheric data managed by the National Weather Service.

The power of what this service offers directly to customers is staggering.

Want the real deal on Isaac? Forget Weather.com, WeatherBug or any of those outfits. Go right to the National Hurricane Center, part of the National Weather Service's online efforts. And there you will find an excellent Web service with all you'd need to know about disasters such as Isaac.

What's sobering to investors is that the National Weather Service is just getting started as a digital content provider. The agency is in the middle of a ground-up rebuild as part of a larger government-backed effort called Weather-Ready Nation. With the goal of making our slow-to-move country more responsive to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the devastating 2011 tornadoes in Joplin, Mo.

Weather-Ready Nation will feature serious new radar products, advanced imaging technologies, easier-to-use online resources and -- in a direct threat to private mobile app makers -- a significant move into improved mobile assets, including better emergency alerts.

"The work of the entire weather and emergency management community," says the agency website, "is driven by a desire to make sure the tragic impacts of the tornadoes in 2011 are never repeated."

Go try Weather.gov. You'll see you'd be a fool to rely on any other provider for the life-and-death information you'll need when the next Isaac or Katrina shows up.

Private companies simply cannot compete.

No manna from digital heaven
So here investors are -- yet again -- looking down the barrel of more grim digital age big-think. The information that drives the modern digital weather business is the same as the information driving the modern music, publishing and legal businesses: It's a commodity. Competition is brutal. And wholesale content creators, which, in this case, is the government, can reach consumers directly.

That adds up to a smaller sandbox for investor-backed weather companies to play in, and one less lucrative niche to pay for our crumbling digital infrastructure.

Weather, once one of hidden flowering cherry trees of the content forest, is now just flying debris in the digital hurricane.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.
2 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,943.81 +28.74 0.17%
S&P 500 1,967.57 +2.89 0.15%
NASDAQ 4,415.49 +19.2860 0.44%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto
Advertising Partners

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs