Eric Danetz, AccuWeather’s newly installed chief revenue officer, picked up the phone and contemplated the climate. This was autumn in New York, yes, but with highs straddling the upper 60s, the afterglow of summer lingered like a lover’s fragrance, keeping the puffer vests and fiery foliage at bay. As always, Danetz took the weather in stride.
“The weather is always good at AccuWeather, my man,” he says. “Today is partly cloudy, and we’re gonna have some showers later today and early tomorrow, but otherwise not so bad. It’s going to be a potentially record-hot Sunday.”
The ease with which he rattles off the forecast is not innate. Danetz is new to this job, but he first used AccuWeather 27 years ago as a fresh-faced intern at ABC TV network’s flagship station in New York City. There, he crunched meteorological data for the station’s weatherman, Sam Champion, who would go on to report for “Good Morning America” and anchor shows on The Weather Channel.
Now, decades later, Danetz’s tenure as an AccuWeather employee spans less than four full seasons. But he’s already drawing on a long career in news to steer AccuWeather’s public-facing offerings toward a premium media outlet. He came to the company by way of Time Inc., CBS, McGraw-Hill and the Daily Beast. The new gig pairs him with another Daily Beast alum, Bill McGarry, and teams him with Deirdre Daly-Markowski, one-time executive director of digital at Hearst. That’s a lot of media moguls to report cloud conditions.
The staff starts to make sense when you look at the audience. AccuWeather claims a daily digital reach of nearly 2 billion users—put another way, as many users as Facebook. But whereas Facebook’s audience gathers on the central Facebook platform, Danetz says AccuWeather’s users are counted from a host of media channels that use AccuWeather.
“We provide forecasts for nearly every location in the world,” Danetz says. Users access AccuWeather on smartphones, tablets, desktops, TVs, radio stations and newspapers. They can even view AccuWeather’s own TV network on Verizon Fios. “If you go into Westfield Mall, or you’re downtown, here in Manhattan, you’ll see digital displays from us,” Danetz says. “If you’re in an elevator, there’s a company called Captivate [that broadcasts information in the car], and the weather on those screens is from AccuWeather. … It’s a tremendous footprint. I’m not going say we’re the size of Facebook in terms of branded usage, but in terms of people who are engaging with our content on a daily basis globally, it’s that big.”
Any content producer claiming to connect with billions of users is likely to draw attention from the ad market. AccuWeather is no exception. But digital displays in elevators and outdoor Manhattan only capture viewers’ attention for a few moments in transit. Danetz and others in AccuWeather’s newly assembled brain trust don’t just want people to check AccuWeather, they want them to experience AccuWeather. “We want to provide video. We want to provide immersive content so that they’re spending more time [with us].”
Part of AccuWeather’s strategy to cultivate brand loyalists is its enhanced app. It displays temperature, but so does the Apple widget that’s standard on every iPhone. Very sleek. Very sterile. Very Cupertino, California. “It’s basic for a reason,” Danetz says of Apple’s offering. “Apple wants it to be basic. They don’t want you there, they want you in the App Store.”