NBCU Working Weather Channel Deal

NBC Universal is at the lead of a group that “has emerged as the frontrunner” in the bidding for The Weather Channel, The Financial Times reported Thursday.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the newspaper reported that NBC-U is teaming with private equity firms Bain Capital and Blackstone and is expected to bid between $3 billion and $4 billion for the channel.

The Weather Channel is one of the last of the major cable channels with a relatively small, independent owner. Family-run Landmark Communications, based in Richmond, Va., revealed its intent to sell the property in January.

Some analysts had pegged the value of the transaction as high as $5 billion, citing the potential in the channel’s Web megasite, weather.com.

NBC-U has been accumulating cable and content brands. Late last year it took aim at the female audience with its acquisition of Oxygen. The Peacock network also owns USA Network, SciFi and Bravo, along with its news franchises MSNBC and CNBC.