The Weather Channel, held by family-owned Landmark Communications of Virginia, is being auctioned off along with the rest of Landmark, and could fetch $5 billion. A number of public companies may have an interest. According to The New York Times, firms looking at the property include Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and General Electric (NYSE: GE).
The Weather Channel is attractive for two reasons. The first is that there are very few large, independent cable networks. Most, including CNN, CNBC, ESPN, and MTV, are already owned by media giants. The chance to pick up another large advertising-supported 24-hour product should be very attractive.
The second tremendous selling point is that weather.com, the online arm of the company, is one of the most-visited sites in the U.S. In November, comScore ranked it as the 16th most-visited website, with 34.1 million unique visitors. That puts it ahead of ESPN.com, CBS.com, and the Viacom (NYSE: VIA) digital properties.
The Weather Channel is a rare prize. The bidding should be spirited.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 247wallst.com.