Way, way back in 2005, when News Corp execs decided they needed to be on the Internet, they drew up a short list of acquisition targets: MySpace/Intermix, IGN and WeatherBug. Rupert Murdoch ended up spending $1.3 billion or so on MySpace and IGN, of course, and that’s worked out pretty darn well for him, even accounting for some stumbles. But he passed on WeatherBug, an astonishingly popular site/widget that not coincidentally was plagued by spyware charges.
Now News Corp. is cautiously stepping back into weather with Fox Weather, a home-grown site. We’ve played with the beta briefly, and from what we can tell, it’s more or less your basic weather site (highs, lows, maps, animation, etc), with an obligatory nod toward social/use-gen (bloggers, forums, etc). Note to FIM folks: If there’s something we’re missing here, let us know. (Update: A reader tells us that the HDRadar feature is cool and unique.)
The site is being overseen by FIM exec Ron Berryman, who runs the Fox Stations group, so we assume that the site’s primary value is as a compliment to Fox’s national and local TV outlets, which makes sense to us. And while weather sites on the Web are nothing new, there’s a big enough audience out there to make even a second-tier contender worth owning: WeatherBug, for instance, still commands a US audience of 15-17 million monthly uniques, according to comScore.