16 years of MSNBC comes to an end

I browsed over to to get my daily morning dose of non-tech news and was instantly greeted with a surprising forward to and a popup that told us big things had happened. After 16 years of Microsoft co-running the website NBC News has purchased back full a controlling interest of the website.

NBC News’s President, Steve Capus, said that the site which was “one of the news industry’s earliest and most successful online operations” would end up becoming part of NBC News Digital. NBC News Digital is going to be run by Vivian Schiller who is the ex-president of National Public Radio and has been running the digital portion of NBC for the past year.

While MSNBC’s website is going to be transferring to for the immediate future it doesn’t look as if they are completely abandoning the website itself. It will eventually give MSNBC TV its own website there which is apparently still going to be live and working even with this new deal in place. For the most part everything will continue as normal for the time being as this is mainly for ‘branding’ purposes between the web and television counterparts.

This deal is, as stated, ending a 16 year 50/50 joint venture that Microsoft and NBC had previously entered into. The full plan to transition out of the partnership is planned to take at least 2 years as so much of the data and infrastructure is hosted and run through Microsoft directly and moving these to NBC running it completely will take time in order to not have any down time or data loss. While this is transition is in effect NBC will still provide the news located upon as well though once everything is done with Microsoft will have to have a new source of news in place it looks like.

Trying to merge the web staff that is currently running the websites with NBC News’s staff is going to be the most difficult as the website is located on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond while NBC is located in New York. Also it’s been noted by many that the reporting styles for both sides of their news have long not been in sync with one another which will make it even more interesting if the claim that the online news portion will not be effected by this merger.

The advantages for this merger?

For NBC it’s a clear win in their corner. They will no longer be relying on another company for their digital network or advertising revenues and with the website visited by 49.9 million people in June they are at a clear advantage of what they are going to be getting. All of the profits they generate will now directly go towards the company and they don’t have to rely on another’s technology.

What does Microsoft gain from this? Well on the surface it looks as if they are losing out on one of the highest trafficed news websites on the Internet. Well to start with Microsoft will no longer strictly rely on NBC as their only source of news so will be able to choose news from sources that they want. The real bonus though is when you think about Microsoft’s future forward thinking that they’ve had in place ever switching over to the Windows 8 mindset. They want to change how everything works and being tied to old technology can only hinder that.’s genereal manager Bob Visse spelled it out here:

If you start thinking about what we’re going to be doing in Windows 8 and the Bing app and what we’re going to be doing … across the multiple platforms, it makes a lot of sense for Microsoft,” Visse said.

We’re talking about using technology and using data to solve information delivery and news delivery in new and innovative ways,” he said. “It’s really difficult for us to do that when we have an exclusive, single-source relationship with one news provider.

When you think of it as Microsoft’s new strategy it actually does make sense long term for them as well. It’s a gamble on Microsoft’s part but a lot of their new vision is a gamble – which early reviews sound as if it may pay off.


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