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The future of the BBC’s weather service

Nigel Charters

Project Director, BBC Weather re-procurement

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The weather may be changeable in the UK, but BBC Weather will continue to provide the best possible weather information service across television, radio and digital based on timely and accurate forecast information.

As many of you know, our contract with the Met Office is coming to an end so over the last year we have been assessing a number of organisations to determine which can best shape our weather coverage for the future. Today I’m extremely pleased to say that our new partner will be MeteoGroup.

We know our viewers, listeners and users expect a high quality weather service from the BBC to help make decisions daily, from what to wear to what to do.

You may not have heard of MeteoGroup, but it has more customers in the UK than any other commercial weather company. They already provide weather services for major UK clients such as the National Grid, the majority of those who maintain the UK Roads network, as well as the UK press and Channel 4 and Sky News.

This decision will mean we can further modernise our weather forecasting making the most of new technology and science to bring our audiences an even better service. This means improvements for the BBC Weather App as well as local, national and global broadcasts.

We always want to give viewers and listeners the clearest, most accessible and accurate information which is why we’ve carried out a thorough, regulated procurement process to test all the organisations that applied on a wide range of areas including data, forecasting, graphics and technology.

We ended up selecting MeteoGroup, an international weather company with headquarters in the UK, because they can best meet our ambitions for innovative and high quality weather services both in the UK and around the world. MeteoGroup will be putting their multiple sources of meteorological data into providing more comprehensive and detailed forecasts at the heart of our award-winning weather app and TV or online weather graphics.

This means audiences can expect to see a more personalised website with clearer and more searchable graphics and more information on screen and on air. We are already planning to upgrade our app, which has been downloaded around 15.5m times or roughly once every 10 seconds, using this enhanced data service to bring even more science and forecasting detail too.

We’ll also be using MeteoGroup’s graphics system so that our brilliant weather presenters can easily design and manage content themselves creating great images for TV and online.

As mentioned, with our current Met Office contract coming to an end the BBC, as a publicly funded organisation, was required by law to run an open competition to decide which organisation delivers our weather service from next year. The regulations state a contract tender must follow various set stages of deliberations and then it must be awarded to the ‘Most Economically Advantageous Tender’, which is the optimum combination of both quality of the services offered and cost.

Under this law we are duty bound to consider and treat equally all the bids we receive from companies. We have taken forward the strongest bid based on best possible service and value for money for the licence fee payer.

These services will hit your screens, from mobile to television, in Spring next year. And at a time when we need to make big savings across the BBC, it will also save us millions of pounds over the next seven or so years.

Some things won’t change though. We know how fond people are of our weather presenters. We have taken steps so the vast majority of our well known and much loved presenters will continue to front BBC Weather.

We’ll still work closely with the Met Office on severe weather warnings; the national agencies for flood warnings and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on shipping forecasts and coastal information.

One long term forecast we can make today with certainty is that audiences will still be able to rely on the BBC for an authoritative weather service in the years to come.

Nigel Charters is Project Director, BBC Weather re-procurement

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