On Wednesday afternoon, Howard Kurtz reported that NBC and Microsoft will announce a deal to part ways, with the NBC purchasing back the remainder of MSNBC.com from the software corporation.
Reportedly, the plan entails a rebranding of MSNBC.com as NBCNews.com. The site currently ranks among the top three in online news sites. The cable network MSNBC was originally a joint venture between NBC and the software company, thus the MS in the title. After the television partnership ended seven years ago, the two remained partners in the website.
“We’re absolutely having those conversations, but there is no deal,” an NBC spokesman told Kurtz, who reported that “NBC executives have grown frustrated at not having sole control of the MSNBC website, which does original reporting as well as aggregating content from the AP, Reuters, New York Times and elsewhere. At the same time, as the MSNBC channel has forged a separate identity as the liberal home of Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz and others, the company has worried about the brand confusion caused by its straight-news site bearing the same name. And the cable channel has lacked a site solely devoted to pushing its personalities.”
“Two years ago,” Kurtz continued, “NBC and Microsoft held serious negotiations about changing the name of MSNBC.com to alleviate that confusion. Once Microsoft withdraws, NBC may create a second site with the MSNBC name simply to promote the cable channel’s offerings.”