NEW YORK — The Weather Channel says it is getting rid of its reality TV shows, along with morning shows led by Sam Champion and Al Roker.
The struggling network is looking to get back to its roots, with less expensive programming and a lineup that appeals more to weather geeks. An estimated 50 people out of The Weather Channel’s staff of 1,400 are losing jobs as a result, the network said Thursday.
The NBC Universal-owned network had lured Champion from ABC’s “Good Morning America” to host “AMHQ,” a weather-focused morning news program. Starting in early November, Champion will work on weather programming during the network’s prime-time schedule, said Dave Shull, who oversees programming at The Weather Channel.
“Wake Up With Al,” which Roker hosted each weekday in the hour before his “Today” show duties, will end on Oct. 2.
Roker’s co-host, Stephanie Abrams, will move back to the network’s Atlanta headquarters to be part of a yet-undefined morning lineup.
The Weather Channel’s New York City studio has become too costly to operate, Shull said in a memo to network staff.
Phasing out non-weather related reality programs is another effort to save money, and can be seen in the context of a growing concern within the television industry that there is a glut of original programming.
Two of the channel’s most popular shows are “Prospectors,” about miners searching for valuable metals in Colorado, and “Fat Guys in the Woods,” where couch potatoes are taught survival skills.