Forecast good for MeteoGroup as it wins BBC weather deal


MeteoGroup is to replace the Met Office as the BBC's weather forecaster.

The Met Office confirmed in August 2015 that it had lost the contract, marking the end of a more than 90-year partnership between the state-owned forecaster and the broadcaster.

MeteoGroup, which will take over in the spring of 2017, is the UK's largest private sector weather business, with offices in 17 countries around the world.

The company will provide forecasting and graphics for weather services across BBC platforms worldwide, including TV, radio, web and mobile.

MeteoGroup chairman Richard Sadler said: "MeteoGroup is honoured to have been chosen to partner with the world's leading broadcaster.

"The BBC is dedicated to offering the best possible weather service to its audience and it has been a demanding selection process."



MeteoGroup started out as MeteoConsult in the Netherlands in 1986 and was the first major European weather business in the private sector.

Its London headquarters was established in 2005 when PA Group, the parent company of the Press Association news agency, acquired a majority share in the business.

It was sold to global growth equity firm General Atlantic in 2014.

Nigel Charters, project director for BBC Weather procurement, said he was "extremely pleased" about the announcement.

He said the decision would mean that the corporation could further modernise its weather forecasting by "making the most of new technology and science to bring our audiences an even better service".

"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," he said in a blog following the announcement. 


Mr Charters said the change meant audiences can expect a "more personalised website" that would include clearer and more searchable graphics, as well as more information for viewers on-screen and on-air. 

The BBC weather app, which has seen more than 15 million downloads, will also be upgraded. 

"We have taken forward the strongest bid based on best possible service and value for money for the licence fee payer," he wrote, adding later: "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".

The corporation will still work with the Met Office when it comes to severe weather warnings, while national agencies will assist with flood warnings and they will work with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for coastal and shipping forecast information. 

Met Office data has been used by the BBC for forecasts since the first radio weather bulletin was broadcast on November 14 1922.

A few months later, in March 1923, daily radio forecasts became a fixture then in November 1936 the world's first television weather chart was broadcast.

The Met Office has provided the corporation with presenters, as well as data, across the BBC network of services.

When news about the contract emerged last year, the BBC said it was legally required to open up the bidding and secure the best value for money for licence fee payers.

Steve Noyes, Met Office operations and customer services director, said at the time that the news was "disappointing".

The Met Office also said at the time that it would be supporting its team of weather presenters, which includes popular personalities such as Carol Kirkwood, to "ensure clarity on their future''.

Mr Charters touched on the future of the BBC's presenter line-up, writing that "some things won't change though".

"We know how fond people are of our weather presenters," he wrote. "We have taken steps so the vast majority of our well-known and much-loved presenters will continue to front BBC Weather."

Despite its reputation for accuracy, the Met Office has been criticised on occasions for getting it wrong. Its ''barbecue summer'' forecast in 2009 preceded a washout and led the organisation to stop producing long-term outlooks.

Two years earlier it had forecast a "warmer summer than normal", which was followed by such heavy downpours it became the wettest summer since 1912.

And perhaps most famously, in 1987, just before the Great Storm which wreaked havoc across southern England, Met Office forecaster Michael Fish downplayed the risks, telling BBC1 viewers that most of the strong winds would hit Spain and France.