When news broke Tues afternoon that Weather Channel was returning to DirecTV after nearly 3 months off the MVPD's lineup, it took many (including us) by surprise. But the writing was on the wall Mon, when it was announced that DirecTV would be the preferred TV supplier for Hilton properties ( Cfax , 4/8). The connection: The Blackstone Group has an interest in both Hilton and Weather Channel. Sources close to the situation confirmed that Weather Channel's return was part of the overall bigger deal with Hilton. This whole situation was anything but standard. It's not often you see an apology like this from a programmer: “Our apologies to DirecTV and their customers for the disruption of our service and for initiating a public campaign. Our viewers deserve better than a public dispute and we pledge to reward their loyalty with exceptional programming and more weather focused news.” You can figure that statement, attributable to Weather Company CEO David Kenny, was something DirecTV wanted. The DBS provider also got to claim victory after blasting the amount of reality programming on Weather Channel, with the programmer agreeing to reduce reality programming by half on weekdays. In reality, that reduction probably only accounts for a few hours of programming a week, but it's still another public point for DTV. The multi-year deal also returns instant local weather and allows authenticated DirecTV subs to watch Weather programming on devices inside and outside the home. What about WeatherNation, the startup net DirecTV touted as replacement programming for Weather Channel? They all still have job security, having recently locked in a multi-year deal with the provider. Weather will be located right next door on the lineup.

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