NBCUniversal is in serious negotiations with Microsoft to buy back MSNBC.com. Several sources told AdWeek’s Mike Shields that negotiations between the two companies have progressed to where NBCU parent Comcast is conducting due diligence. They said that the partnership could be “unwound” by this summer.
Both the MSNBC network and MSNBC.com were launched as a JV between NBC and Microsoft in 1996. In 2005, NBC purchased the majority of Microsoft’s stake of MSNBC, which has since morphed into a liberal alternative to Fox News, featuring hosts like Matthews and Rachel Maddow. Two years later, NBC owned the network outright.
But MSNBC.com has remained a JV, distinct from the network. While the site is populated with Today Show and NBC News content, it’s far more of a general news outlet than the TV net.
AdWeek says that under Comcast reign, the company is more interested in using MSNBC.com to further its network brand: “It drives those guys crazy that they can’t have personalities like Maddow and company on the Web more,” said a source.
MSNBC.com benefits heavily from its prominent placement on the MSN portal, and that’s something NBCU will be hesitant to give up. Thus, according to AdWeek, the companies are likely to negotiate a deal ensuring that MSNBC.com secures real estate on MSN.com.