Brian Roof has gotten used to working in the middle of a hurricane. Roof is the senior vice president and chief counsel at the Weather Group, which includes the Weather Channel, Local Now, and the recently launched free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channel Pattrn. He has helped pave the legal roads for the immersive mixed reality that allows Weather Channel hosts to illustrate—and often appear in or right next to—tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms, and other weather phenomena from the comfort of a studio.
While Roof isn’t on screen, he’s used to making big things happen behind the scenes.
He spent nearly eleven years at Cooper Holdings and oversaw a multitude of high-profile sports and entertainment initiatives, from helping launch the Justice Network and Quest channels to negotiating multimillion-dollar employment, advertising, marketing, and sponsorship agreements for brands, teams, and players. If it’s a sports league that you’ve heard of, it’s likely Roof has navigated a deal.
“I had the opportunity to do so much, and I really loved being involved on the sports and media side,” Roof explains. “When the Weather Group job popped up, I became really interested in the new properties and initiatives the company was working on that make sense when you consider where media is going. It seemed like the perfect next step in my career.”
Roof was also intrigued by the Weather Group’s owner, entrepreneur, and entertainment mogul Byron Allen. Working on properties for the Allen Media Group (AMG) seemed like it would never make for a boring day, and Roof says that’s exactly how it has played out.
Roof oversees legal matters for channels like the Weather Channel and Local Now, but since coming to the company, he has also been able to help teams bring free and OTT (over-the-top) media outlets directly to consumers. The timing is intentional.
“When the pandemic hit, Local Now evolved from being a traditional linear channel to more of an entire entertainment platform,” Roof says. “The goal was to focus on the free side of content, as opposed to first coming out with another subscription model like a lot of other media companies were doing. The team’s focus was to develop a product we could roll out quickly to consumers that also wouldn’t cost them any money.”
In theory, it sounds great—but that meant immediately working to acquire free, ad-supported content along with movie titles and television shows to build out the platform. The tech team got to work redeveloping its application almost from scratch.
“Keep in mind this was done almost entirely remotely,” Roof says. “All of the development, software and content agreements, and privacy work was a huge task for everyone.”
Roof has also helped launch Pattrn, which began as a mobile-first news platform that delivers content directly to Twitter. “Pattrn started out as an effort to communicate to a younger demographic about our changing environment and climate on social media,” Roof explains. “Pattrn has evolved into a FAST channel dedicated to telling stories about climate challenges.”
Leading in New Climates
The legal leader says while the past two years have been incredibly difficult with the COVID-19 pandemic, he has become more conscious than ever of the teams he leads. “I always stress to my team that they take their vacation and their PTO,” Roof says. “We’ve really leaned into the work-from-home environment, and I think it’s important that people find that balance of making sure they’re not burning themselves out.”
Roof has even taken on two new attorneys while working fully remote. It seems to fit the style of a chief counsel who believes that micromanaging his team is the surest way to fail. “There just aren’t enough hours in the day to manage that way, and it’s never been my approach,” the SVP says. “I’ve always told my team members that I’m going to give them the runway to do what they need to do. I’m always here for them.”
The SVP is used to working big deals, but when he’s not on the clock, he can most likely be found working a shovel or a rake. Roof is an avid landscaper who says that the touch of the soil provides its own kind of therapy—as long as it’s not raining. Luckily, he has a fast track to the forecast.