(The Weather Channel) (The Weather Channel)

The pressure is on at The Weather Channel as major satellite TV provider DirecTV hints it may cut ties with the network, reports the LA Times:

DirecTV, the El Segundo satellite broadcaster with more than 20 million subscribers around the country, has quietly started distributing a network called WeatherNation just as its deal to carry the Weather Channel is set to expire.

Although talks between the two companies are ongoing, DirecTV’s decision to add WeatherNation is seen as a not-so-subtle threat that it is willing to drop the Weather Channel.

It’s not known how serious DirecTV is about letting The Weather Channel go. It may well be just adding WeatherNation, a small TV forecasting outlet based in Denver, as leverage in negotiations.

The Dish Network made a similar move before it renewed its deal with The Weather Channel in 2010.

Related: An alternative to The Weather Channel: Weather Nation TV, interview with CEO Paul Douglas

The Weather Channel surely doesn’t want to lose 20 million viewers, fresh off bringing aboard star weathercaster Sam Champion from Good Morning America. Meanwhile, DirecTV risks a revolt from hardcore Weather Channel fans if it discontinues carrying the network.

It will be interesting to see which side gives in…

(Hat tip: Bob Ryan)