Weathercaster Jim Cantore at his post at the Weather Channel. / The Weather Channel
Weather Channel fans feel like they've been hit by lightning.
"I want my Weather Channel back," tweeted Cindy Penland, a DirecTV subscriber, while Samantha Huff noted "who doesn't love Jim Cantore and the Weather Channel? DirectTV should get their act together."
These were just two comments from customers affected by DirecTV's decision to drop the 32-year-old Weather Channel from its cable package on Tuesday.
Founded as a fledgling start-up in the analog world of 1982, the same year as USA TODAY, the Weather Channel has grown to be available in "over 100 million homes," according to spokeswoman Shirley Powell. "We are one of the most widely distributed networks on television."
Roughly 20 million homes, or about 18% of the Weather Channel's audience, is on DirecTV, Powell said.
"This is a dangerous gamble over one penny a month that puts DirecTVcustomers at risk," said David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company, the parent company of the Weather Channel. He also took aim at DirecTV's weather channel, WeatherNation, which it started after a previous dispute with the Weather Channel in 2010.
"At a time when DirecTV has increased customer rates by 4%, they are trading safety for increased profits and replacing the experience and expertise of The Weather Channel with a cheap start-up that does weather forecasting on a three-hour taped loop, has no field coverage, and no weather experts," Kenny said.
DirecTV, in a statement on its site, countered that "consumers understand there are now a variety of other ways to get weather coverage, free of reality show clutter, and that the Weather Channel does not have an exclusive on weather coverage â?? the weather belongs to everyone."
The Weather Channel has long held a special place in the hearts of its fans, some of whom went on to become meteorologists:
"For a weather geek like me, this was heaven via cable TV," wrote Mark Suddeth on his blog Hurricane Track, reminiscing about his childhood watching the network in the 1980s.
"I know of countless other people, many of whom are in the weather business, who grew up with the same experiences as I did in regards to the Weather Channel," Suddeth wrote. "We each aspired in our own secret ways to become Jim Cantore or [legendary hurricane specialist] John Hope. In short, The Weather Channel inspired a generation of weather geeks."
The network didn't break even until its fifth year, according to former chairman and CEO Frank Batten in the book The Weather Channel: The Making of a Media Phenomenon, and didn't really hit its stride until the 1990s, as meteorologist Robert Henson wrote in his book Weather on the Air.
In addition to its format and well-known personalities, the rise in the network's popularity, Henson noted, was due in part to an uptick in hurricane strikes, big East Coast snowstorms, and a record-setting El NiÃ±o in 1998.
"Doctor help me," wrote New York Times columnist Russell Baker in 1996. "I am hooked on the Weather Channel."
However, with the splintering and fragmentation of the media universe with the rise of the Internet and now mobile over the past 15 years or so, the Weather Channel on basic cable was no longer the only game in town.
Also, a perception that the Weather Channel has abandoned its roots - the weather - to broadcast more reality shows such as Prospectors and Coast Guard Alaska may have turned off some of its fans. (Although the Weather Channel says that during severe weather emergencies, the network goes to 100% live programming).
Two tweets on Tuesday noted this: Tom Kopacz said "call in when @weatherchannel has stopped showing programs about tow trucks & people digging up shiny rocks," while Matt Frazier tweeted "@weatherchannel perhaps giving us the weather might have prevented you guys from being dropped by #DIRECTV ."
"Most consumers don't want to watch a weather information channel with a forecast of a 40 percent chance of reality TV," DirecTV added.
"A return to what I believe most people truly want to see â?? weather â?? is the key to the long term success of the Weather Channel and any other enterprise trying to jump in to the weather business," wrote Suddeth.
Even if the Weather Channel isn't available on cable TV, their content can still be accessed on weather.com and on their mobile apps. Other sources for weather include the federal government's National Weather Service, AccuWeather, local TV weather, and the new WeatherNation cable TV network, being offered on DirectTV.
During weather emergencies, the Emergency Alert System (EAS) from the FCC also provides severe weather warnings, which are broadcast on a variety of platforms.
Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com
Read the original story: Weather Channel fans take issue with DirecTV