NBC News | The New York Times
NBC News announced Sunday night that it had bought the remaining half of msnbc.com from Microsoft on Friday. Users who type “msnbc.com” into their browsers are now redirected to the NBCNews.com domain. The deal was expected, to say the least, with several outlets reporting as far back as May that it was in the works.
The Times’ Brian Stelter reports that the $300-million deal ends years of brand confusion:
Like a couple who stays together for far too long — to their friends’ discomfort — the breakup between NBC and Microsoft has been a long time coming. The partnership was pioneering at first, with a best-in-its-class Web site owing to Microsoft’s technologists in Washington State and a companion cable news channel run by NBC’s news-gathering teams in New York. But drastic changes in the media business, differing priorities inside the companies and the physical distance between them brought them apart.
Microsoft’s stake in the cable channel was dissolved in 2005. But NBC came to feel handcuffed by the Web arrangement; an increasing number of advertisers wanted to buy ads both on its TV newscasts and its Web sites, a strategy called cross-media sales, but it could not respond effectively because Microsoft ran the ad sales part of the business.
NBC News is interested in partnerships, including possibly with The Huffington Post, while MSN says it will create a competing news site this fall.
NBCNews.com also will partner with NBC-owned and operated stations so that users can access local news on the site, too. Some staff will move to New York; others will remain in Seattle, where NBC will create a “NBC News Innovation Center.”
Along with msnbc.com, NBC News now owns TODAY.com, NightlyNews.com, BreakingNews.com, Newsvine.com and EveryBlock.com. Those sites will join existing NBC online properties under a new division called NBC News Digital, headed by Vivian Schiller, who joined NBC a year ago after leading NPR.
Stelter reports that another reason for the split is MSNBC’s shift to a “politically progressive persona.” According to a tweet from The Huffington Post, the goal of the new msnbc.com will be “to get bigger slice of ‘smart, progressive’ audience.”
But NBC News President Steve Capus told reporters in a conference call Monday that ideology wasn’t an issue:
NBC prez Capus says theory that MSNBC’s liberal ideology is problem for NBC “has been kicking around for 5 years” & doesn’t pass litmus test
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) July 16, 2012