America Online, the world's largest Internet service provider, on Monday said it plans to offer up-to-the-minute weather information on its instant messaging service.
The online unit of Time Warner Inc. said it signed a deal with WeatherBug, which gathers weather information from more than 6,000 weather stations installed atop schools.
AOL will receive royalties via users who also sign up for a paid version of WeatherBug without ads, an AOL executive said.
"Instant messaging has become a part of the fabric of everyday life, and the number one thing that people talk about everyday is weather," said Ed Fish, senior vice president of desktop messaging at AOL.
The deal is part of a broader plan to bolster revenue generating instant messaging features for the popular, but free service.
Over the past few months AOL has launched paid features, including a personal classifieds site linked to instant messaging. It also has added online gaming and audio and video chatting capabilities.
On Monday, AOL will let its users install an optional upgrade to its software, which will offer the WeatherBug software on desktop computers.
Looking ahead, Fish said he expected a tighter integration with WeatherBug, including the ability to send storm alerts to cell phones equipped with AOL Instant Messenger.