Hello, NBCNews.com. On Sunday night, the 16-year joint venture between NBC and Microsoft that was MSNBC.com ended, and the TV network’s news arm will rename the site in its own name. MSNBC.com will return early in 2013 as the site solely dedicated to the cable news channel of that name, thus ending the site’s dual role as the online destination for two TV entities.
The change results from the decision by NBC parent Comcast to buy Microsoft’s half of the site, reportedly for about US$ 300 million in a deal signed Friday. NBC News president Steve Capus told The New York Times that the change will mean NBC News now will “fully own our digital businesses.”
‘Something More Than Fine’
He said that the outgoing MSNBC.com was “fine,” adding that “I hate the word ‘fine,’” and that the news division wanted “something more than fine.” NBC News said it aims to increase the integration between its online and on-air presence, including making available more mobile apps and TV clips.
The joint venture began in the mid-1990s, at a time when major media companies were still exploring how they could utilize the booming but new online medium. The collaboration meant that a major technology company and a major news company could focus on what they each do best, and it was widely seen at the time as a best-of-breed test case.
But, as the Web grew into a more clearly defined and viable channel of distribution, the respective needs of both companies, and the needs of NBC’s two TV brands, pulled at the venture. In 2005, Microsoft ended its ownership of the cable channel.
NBC faced obstacles in trying to cross-sell ads both on-air and online, because of branding and joint ownership issues. Eventually though, a joint venture sales team was set up to handle such sales, and its resulting success became an impetus for NBC to pursue the deal for complete ownership.
An additional factor was that MSNBC became a politically progressive news channel, which meant that NBC News was linked to its orientation via the joint news site.
In the near term, MSNBC.com will redirect to NBCNews.com. Until the new MSNBC.com site is up, the cable channel’s content will appear on NBCNews.com, such as for The Rachel Maddow Show and Morning Joe. The NBCNews.com site will look the same as the old one for a time, except for a new logo, and production will move entirely to New York. However, NBC will retain some technical employees in Washington State, in what is being called the NBC News Innovation Center.
Under the previous agreement, Microsoft was restricted from using or linking to other news sources on its MSN.com site, which is no longer the case.