January 24, 2012, 4:04 pm
David Kenny Named Chief of the Weather Channel
The Weather Channel Companies, which owns the Weather Channel, replaced its leadership on Tuesday, and named the digital advertising veteran David Kenny its chairman and chief executive.
Mr. Kenny will start immediately. Michael J. Kelly, who had been the chief executive since 2009, will become a special adviser to the company and an adviser to Bain Capital, the private equity firm that co-owns the company with the Blackstone Group and Comcast’s NBCUniversal.
The surprise change signaled a desire on the part of the co-owners to expand the Weather Channel’s digital and mobile businesses more quickly. Through mobile apps and Web sites like Weather.com, the company sees an opportunity to have a much bigger international footprint.
“Six and a half billion people need information about weather,” Mr. Kenny said in an interview Tuesday after addressing the company’s staff in Atlanta.
Mr. Kenny also said that the company would make more investments in long-form programming — part of a gradual move away from live weather news and toward taped weather-related reality shows.
“Now that people can get the information they need for their forecast off the Web, and certainly on their mobile phone, that gives us more license to do more long-form on the cable channel,” he said. The channel remained committed to live news during severe weather, he added.
Mr. Kenny, a member of the board of directors of Yahoo, was the president of Akamai until he stepped down last October. He was previously the co-founder of VivaKi, a digital agency that is part of the Publicis Groupe.
In a statement, the three co-owners of the Weather Channel said that Mr. Kenny’s experience “gives him a deep understanding of the TV and digital business, and he has the leadership experience and vision to drive global initiatives across all platforms.”
Mr. Kelly, similarly, had a digital media background when he was hired two and a half years ago.
Mr. Kenny said he was initially recruited to join the board of the company, and was later asked by the board to consider the chief executive position.
“What I’ve long stood for is convergence,” he said. “I think you’ll see us find better ways to run the Weather Channel as one company, really organized around our hundreds of millions of users.”
NBCUniversal and the private equity firms have owned the Weather Channel since 2008.