If you’re a KMBC Channel 9 weather watcher, then you’ve probably heard meteorologist Bryan Busby talk about the current conditions while viewing live shots from the station’s City View cameras stationed at Corporate Woods, the Downtown Kansas City Marriot hotel and other locations.
That live-streaming video is made possible by Overland Park-based Weather Metrics Inc., a company founded and owned by Peter Levy. With 15 employees, Weather Metrics delivers live-streaming capabilities to television stations that allow Busby, his KSHB competitor Gary Lezak and other weather broadcasters across the country to show viewers live conditions through a broadcast network.
“Five million people see our products,” Levy said. “We’re in 170 TV markets, and we have the largest TV networks in Canada. We’re opening in other places including Iraq, Dubai, Nigeria and soon in Vietnam.”
Weather Metrics claims a number of “firsts” including sending real-time, 100 percent digital video for on-air display and delivering live video over a standard DSL line for on-air display. The company also developed “store and forward” video technology — what’s called the WeatherVision camera network.
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“Our technology allows us to stream to all those outlets at the same time for a given bandwidth … (providing) added value for our customers,” Levy said.
Q: How did you get into this industry?
Levy has had the entrepreneurial spirit since he was a teen, when he started installing sprinkler systems for golf courses.
Levy, a University of Kansas graduate, headed in another career direction than he originally planned.
“I was going to go to medical school and got side-tracked in the golf industry,” he said. “We started seeing a need in the golf business for weather information … and developed weather equipment that would tell us how much watering the course needed,” Levy said.
Levy created Waterscape, a company that developed sprinkler systems using weather information to determine watering levels. Waterscape eventually had systems at Kansas City International Airport, Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums and Kansas City Country Club’s golf course. The company eventually operated offices in five cities, but after 22 years Levy decided to sell it.
“I came to the conclusion the business wasn’t worth more than what I started with,” he said.
Levy got a call from a meteorologist at one of the local television stations asking whether he could get weather data from Waterscape’s devices, and a light bulb went off. Levy took the system and software he created and adapted it for the television marketplace.
Q: What is it that Weather Metrics actually sells?
Weather Metrics sells the stations cameras and weather sensors, and licenses software to report real-time weather. Its cameras come from various vendors in Germany, Finland and Canada.
“We take a camera that’s built over there and put in our software,” Levy said. “We make it easy to use our software.… We don’t do the installation at their station but their engineer does it.”
Weather Metrics does provide the training on how to use the units. Pricing is the same whether a station is in a large or small market. Levy said these systems provide stations with more than live weather imagery.
“We’re really in the advertising business,” he said. “We show TV stations how to put the camera up and get a business to sponsor by putting it on their facility. We show them how to make money with the equipment.”
There’s one thing viewers will not see on television broadcasts that use a Weather Metrics system.
“We don’t require them to use our branding, but we can use their brand in our marketing efforts,” Levy said. “It’s a strategy we’ve used since the beginning.”
Q: Outside of television, what are your other markets?
“We’re in the snow ski industry with snow cameras,” Levy said. “We were the first to stream the video live to websites so skiers could see the real time conditions.”
Weather Metrics continues to grow, and Levy said the company has an 80 percent retention rate with its clients.
“Last month we streamed 10 million live video viewer minutes to the Web,” Levy said.
Currently, Weather Metrics actively monitors 4,000 devices providing 24/7 support in the unlikely event of an outage.
“It’s all automated,” Levy said. “If a device goes down it sends a message and we start the reset process.”
Q: What is the competition like in your industry?
“All three of them have gotten out of it,” Levy said. “They couldn’t provide the customer support we can.”
Levy pointed to the company’s ability to put in a Weather Metrics system just about anywhere a customer wants.
“We have cameras a top of roller coasters in Ohio, in Brant Park in New York City and in the mountains in the Poconos,” he said.
Q: What have you found most challenging about your business?
“The workforce,” said Levy. “Keeping the culture we built as we grow. It’s the culture that makes us successful.… We provide a work-life balance. Rarely does anyone come in on the weekends.”
IN A NUTSHELL
COMPANY: Weather Metrics Inc.
ADDRESS: 11100 W. 91st St., Overland Park, KS