I recently had a chance to interview IBM VP and global head of Watson Advertising and Weather Sheri Bachstein for the second time. She’s a super-smart, super-knowledgeable tech industry veteran, and we chatted about the rise of the subscription economy.
Specifically, how weather info — which is freely available — is a subscription economy opportunity. And, for IBM, a very, very large one.
A snippet from my story at Forbes:
40 billion times a day more than 2.5 billion devices ping IBM’s servers for weather updates. A year ago, almost all of those updates were paid for by advertising and partnership deals.
Now, however, that’s changing.
And the change parallels the massive rise of the subscription economy.
Today nearly a million people who previously got their weather updates for free from The Weather Company pay IBM $30/year to get no ads, premium radar forecasts, more granular weather predictions, and other data. The Weather Company launched its subscription service in the teeth of the Covid-19 pandemic and has now grown it to more than 900,000 paying subscribers. Growth is especially fast during major weather emergencies: Hurricane Marco and Hurricane Laura accounted for 1% of new subscriptions on TWCo in just five days last summer.
With 400 million on-platform users and likely over a billion who access The Weather Company’s services elsewhere … there’s huge potential here.