To captivate viewers, innovative weathercast presentation is vital—especially with rival networks just a zap of the remote away. How could Univision engage viewers with unique weather storytelling?
Univision implemented state-of-the-art visualization tools from The Weather Company®, an IBM Business, enabling its meteorologists to add 3D graphics to its reports for greater impact with viewers.
Boostsviewer engagement in weathercasts with advanced augmented reality graphics
Enablesmemorable weather storytelling, differentiating Univision from competitors
HelpsUnivision sell new weather sponsorship packages, funding continued innovation
Business challenge story
Serving a rapidly-growing media market
For U.S.-based media company Univision Communications Inc., the mission is clear: to inform, entertain, and empower Hispanic America. With Spanish-speaking Americans forming the country’s fastest-growing linguistic group, demand for Spanish-language broadcasts has never been greater—and competition among rival networks never so fierce. To engage as many Spanish-speaking Americans as possible, unique, memorable programming is a must.
Chris Peña, Senior Vice President of News at Univision, explains the central role of the weathercast in network strategy: “Reports from the National Weather Service are often only available in English, and are difficult to understand for many in the Spanish-speaking community. This makes our Spanish-language weather segments a central part of our public service broadcasting.
“During severe conditions, such as storms, flash floods, hurricanes, or exceptional heat, weather can form the lead story on our local and network newscasts, where we provide tips and guidance on how to stay safe. It is therefore vital we create engaging reports that resonate with our viewers—that helps us stand out from rival stations.”
Following a review of its weather services, Univision began to plan an innovative, state-of-the-art national weather center in Houston. As part of this, Univision also re-assessed its existing tools for preparing weathercasts, and realized a revamp was in order.
Albert Martinez, Chief Meteorologist at Univision, explains: “We are always aiming to add new visual elements to our weathercasts—but with our old software, putting together graphics for our reports was a time-consuming, tricky process. We decided to look for a new solution that would unleash the creativity of our weather teams, enabling them to create more compelling, impactful stories for our viewers.”
Adding visual intrigue to weathercasts
To introduce new layers of visual interest to its weather reports, Univision deployed the Max Ecosystem of products from The Weather Company.
Chris Peña explains the selection process: “We conducted an exhaustive search for new weather solutions, involving our procurement, engineering, and weather teams. It was important that we found the right solution to add value to our broadcasts, and we looked at options from many leading vendors.
“We have a long-standing relationship with The Weather Company, and their systems have always been excellent, so it was no surprise that the Max Ecosystem was the standout product among all those that we assessed.”
He continues: “Several solutions offered good graphics capabilities, but only The Weather Company products combined weather data with visualization tools. This was a game-changer for us, as we were keen to source everything from one vendor. The fact that we could also add extra capabilities with other Max products as and when needed was also very attractive.”
Initially, Univision implemented Max Studio and Max Storm across all its local stations, before adding Max Reality at the national weather center in Houston, and Max Traffic and Max Sky at selected stations.
The Max products enable Univision to use innovative digital effects to visualize weather data and enhance the storytelling in its weathercasts. The graphical effects available through the Max suite include radar mapping, and over 200 meteorological and astronomical phenomena presented in 3D.
In particular, Univision is using Max Reality to add cutting-edge augmented reality shots to its reports, bringing weather systems such as storms, snowfall, and hurricanes into the studio for an immersive viewing experience.
Albert Martinez notes: “We find the Max suite very user-friendly. The Weather Company provided on-site training to get us up and running and helped us put together our first visuals. After that, it was easy for us to explore the different features of the solutions.”
He continues: “For me, using Max Reality doesn’t really feel like work—it’s more like a game! I just sit back and play with the amazing graphics. It didn’t take long for us to build up a library of images that we use on our weather reports—everything from football fields and houses, to vehicles and rainclouds. We can also add audio to the graphics, so when we show there are lightning storms on the way, for example, we can add a clap of thunder for extra impact.”
Univision is now using Max Reality on its weathercasts several times a week, often starting network newscasts with the weather segment to display the augmented reality visuals and capture viewers’ attention. At the new national weather center, Univision’s chief meteorologists also use Max Reality to prepare graphics that are then distributed to local stations to be adapted and used in their weather reports.
Chris Peña adds: “Working with The Weather Company continues to be a highly rewarding experience. The customer service is excellent, and they always take the time to understand our precise aims on every project. They always act with our best interests in mind.”
Delivering unique, engaging reports
Supported by The Weather Company, Univision is achieving its goal of delivering informative, compelling weather content to the screens of Hispanic America. With its unique approach to weathercasts, Univision is differentiating itself in the ultra-competitive media market.
Albert Martinez elaborates: “We’re creating weather reports with greater visual interest than ever before. The Max suite unlocks creative new ways to tell weather stories, and we know from the comments we receive on our Facebook and Instagram accounts that our viewers love the new graphics. Bringing effects like snowstorms or flash floods into our studio makes our weather segment that extra bit more memorable and draws more viewers to our stations.
“During severe weather, that extra impact in our broadcasts also helps to keep people safe. For example, during snowstorms we show graphics of icy roads with vehicles skidding and sliding, with a clear message—take extra care if you must use the roads.”
During the 2017 hurricane season, the Max suite proved to be a vital tool to keep viewers constantly up-to-speed with threat levels. “Just 24 hours before Hurricane Harvey struck, we installed Max Connect on an iPad, allowing us to show viewers the course of the storm on our video wall,” says Albert Martinez. “We also used the high-definition graphics of the latest release of Max Reality to create visuals showing vehicles being overcome by rising waters, reinforcing the dangers to citizens and gaining us national press coverage.
“And when Hurricane Irma threatened Miami, we used 3D charts to keep viewers up-to-speed on sea level rises and when the storm surge would hit. We developed graphics showing the huge damage that a category five hurricane can do to a home, with roofs being torn away, and audio effects like tornado sirens for maximum impact with viewers.”
He adds: “Every day, I watch the weathercasts of our rival channels and think about how we can be more innovative and differentiate our reports. With Max Reality and the other Max products, it’s easy for us to stay ahead of the curve. There’s no limit to how creative we can be and it only takes a few seconds to put graphics together—a huge improvement on our previous software.”
Univision is also integrating augmented reality segments into its “factoids”—a series of brief explainer videos on specific meteorological phenomena, which are posted online via social media. With social media use among Hispanic and Latino Americans well above the national average in the United States, the augmented reality factoids are the ideal way to engage a new audience.
Univision can even use the Max suite to create segments for non-weather news items, as Albert Martinez explains: “During the recent earthquake in Mexico, we used the augmented reality capabilities of Max Reality to show viewers how the movement of tectonic plates had caused the earthquake. We also created a map showing the latest seismic movements—it was all prepared in a couple of minutes, ready to be shown on air.”
The striking new weather segments are a more attractive proposition to potential sponsors, helping Univision improve return on investment (ROI) on the solutions. Chris Peña notes: “Weather reports are highly prized by advertisers as an opportunity to spread their company name and message. Our new Max solutions have already contributed to new sponsorship deals in Miami, Chicago and other locations across the United States, which will help to fund continuing innovation in our weather broadcasts.”
Univision plans to continue its use of Max Reality with the addition of virtual sets, and to add a new mobile weather app using the Max Mobile solution, as Chris Peña explains: “In the coming months we will be creating more solutions to provide users with weather alerts, notifications and clips. It will be another great opportunity for us to boost viewer loyalty, and to create a new revenue stream through the sale of advertising space.”
He concludes: “Our work with The Weather Company enables us to create visually compelling forecasts, helping to keep the Hispanic community in America well-informed and safe at all times, whatever the weather. We’re already excited about taking the next steps of our journey with The Weather Company.”
About Univision Communications Inc.
Univision Communications Inc. is the leading media company serving Hispanic America and a leading content creator in the U.S. It includes Univision Network, one of the leading networks in the U.S. regardless of language and the most-watched Spanish-language broadcast television network in the country; and Univision Local Media, which owns and/or operates 60 television stations and 64 radio stations in major U.S. Hispanic markets and Puerto Rico. Headquartered in New York City, it has content creation facilities and sales offices in major cities throughout the United States.
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The Weather Company, an IBM Business, helps people make informed decisions and take action in the face of weather. The company offers the most accurate forecasts globally with personalized and actionable weather data and insights to millions of consumers, as well as thousands of marketers and businesses via Weather’s API, its business solutions division, and its own digital products from The Weather Channel (weather.com) and Weather Underground (wunderground.com).
The company delivers around 25 billion forecasts daily. Its products include the world’s most downloaded weather app, a network of 250,000 personal weather stations, a top-20 U.S. website, one of the world’s largest IoT data platforms, and industry-leading business solutions.
Weather Means Business™. The world’s biggest brands in aviation, energy, insurance, media, and government rely on The Weather Company for data, technology platforms and services to help improve decision-making and respond to weather’s impact on business.
For more, visit business.weather.com.