After 16 years of collaboration between Microsoft and NBC News, MSNBC.com is no more. Comcast, the parent of NBC Universal, has acquired Microsoft’s 50% stake in the news site -- reportedly for $300 million -- and rebranded it NBCNews.com.
“Many details of the arrangement remain to be worked out, and financial terms weren't disclosed,” said a report on the new site, which redirects users who link to MSNBC.com, adding that the new site would become part of NBC News Digital, a division of NBC News headed by Vivian Schiller, the former president-CEO of National Public Radio who became chief digital officer of NBC News last year.
The move marks an end to one of the most interesting collaborations between new (Microsoft) and old (NBC) media companies, which began with a conversation between Microsoft Founder Bill Gates and former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw that led to the formation of a 50/50 venture that spawned the news site and a companion 24-hour news channel, MSNBC -- which had previously been acquired by NBC Universal, and repositioned into a liberal point-of-view news and commentary channel.
According to the report on NBCNews.com, the site will eventually become the “address” of MSNBC TV. In the meantime, NBC News executives said the site’s focus on hard news would remain.
Microsoft is expected to continue selling the site’s online advertising inventory until a new online sales structure can be put in place.
The deal also frees Microsoft to begin working more closely with other news organizations as contributors or partners for its MSN.com portal, which had previously had an exclusive arrangement with NBC News.