Microsoft and NBC split ways

Once a pioneering joint venture in the early days of the Web, Microsoft and NBC have announced this week that they will end their cooperation in MSNBC. Microsoft will sell its 50 percent share in MSNBC to NBC, which was acquired by Comcast from General Electric last year. I was interviewed by the E-Commerce Times on the reasons behind the split and the future of MSNBC.

The following is an excerpt from the story “Microsoft, NBC Part Ways” on the website of the E-Commerce Times:

“The split solves a branding dilemma for NBC News,” said Marcus Messner, a professor in the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University. “While the news channel had been solely run by NBC for a few years, the website was still a joint venture. This created problems for cross-media advertising and overall branding. It will also allow NBC News to develop its own online brand and be more effective in marketing news content across platforms.”

The split could also unravel some other corporate entanglements that have become all the more intertwined after Comcast’s purchase of NBC.

“By the split, Comcast becomes the only determining player for NBC and the conflicts with Microsoft will be resolved,” added Messner. “Microsoft, on the other hand, says farewell to the news business. The joint venture MSNBC was an innovative step in the early stages of the Web in the mid-1990s but had lost its edge and innovation for a while now. The concentration of all platforms under the same ownership makes a lot of sense in this highly diversified media environment.”

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