NBCUniversal has acquired from Microsoft its 50 percent
share of the MSNBC Digital Network, the company officially announced Monday.
NBC News will now be the full owner and operator of MSNBC
Digital Network, which includes msnbc.com, Today.com, NightlyNews.com and
BreakingNews.com. As such, MSNBC.com has been renamed NBCNews.com and MSNBC TV
will launch its own site in early 2013.
The transition will align the digital business with the NBC
News brand as well as help maximize the sales force, who will now sell both the
television and digital properties.
NBC News Digital will be overseen by Vivian Schiller, senior
VP and chief digital officer of NBC News and Charlie Tillinghast will continue
to oversee the MSNBC Digital Network properties, reporting to Schiller. In
terms of sales, the current NBC News Digital sales team will now report to
Marianne Gambelli, president of NBC Network Ad Sales, and work closely with
John Kelly, executive VP of NBC News Ad Sales.
"Our belief is that the future of news is heading toward the
digital space," said NBC News President Steve Capus on a conference call with
reporters. "We want to make sure we have complete control and ownership of our
Capus said he believed the news division could have greater
representation of its television properties like Nightly News, Meet the Press
and Hardball, under a new structure, saying that right now "I see other sites
taking better advantage of our own properties."
As part of the integration of MSNBC Digital Network
properties into NBC News, some staff will be co-located at NBC's headquarters
in New York but the announcement noted that "NBC News plans to keep a
substantial presence in the Seattle area, building what will become the â€˜NBC
News Innovation Center.' This center will focus on digital innovation and
technology, and incubate new ideas for NBC News and NBCUniversal."
The announcement also stressed that "in the coming years,
[Microsoft-owned] MSN will remain an important distribution partner for
NBCNews.com, featuring NBC News links to content on the MSN homepage and other
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though reports have
estimated the sale price at about $300 million. Some digital staff will be
moved to NBC's headquarters in New York, though NBC News said it would retain a
presence in the Seattle area by building the NBC News Innovation Center to
focus on digital innovation and technology.
The deal comes on the 16th anniversary of MSNBC,
the joint venture than was formed between NBC and Microsoft on July 15, 1995. NBC
News previously bought out Microsoft's share of the MSNBC cable channel in 2005.
Despite the dissolution of the joint venture with Microsoft,
the cable channel will retain the MSNBC name, which is now owned by NBC News.