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NBCNews

NBC breaks up with Microsoft over MSNBC

Screw Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, the big divorce news on the web right now revolves around Microsoft and US broadcaster NBC.

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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The two have ended their 16 year-long partnership on MSNBC, which will now be called NBCNews. According to The Next Web, the rebrand is the result of NBC owner Comcast buying out Microsoft’s 50% stake in the news portal.

The new identity is likely an attempt by NBC to consolidate its online properties. This is backed up by a comment made by Steve Capus, the president of NBC News. He said the rebrand allow the company to “fully own” its “digital businesses”.

“It’s undeniable how big a part of all of our businesses the digital properties are going to be,” he added. “We think we have a much better opportunity to shape them, and frankly grow the news division over all, if we have direct control over all of it.”

Microsft isn’t just going to head quietly into the good night of online news either. The Redmond-based tech giant had apparently also grown frustrated with the conditions its contract with NBC.

“Being limited to MSNBC.com content was problematic to us because we couldn’t have the multiple news sources and the multiple perspectives that our users were telling us that they wanted,” Bob Visse, general manager of MSN.com told the Associated Press.

According to the AP, Microsoft will be launching its own web service which will have a staff of 100 — that’s around the same number that worked on MSNBC.

“There is no question that we are going to have more flexibility to make our own decisions,” said NBC News’ chief digital officer Vivian Schiller. “This is really an amicable breakup. We think competition will make us better.”

In early 2013, the MSNBC site will be rebranded as the landing page for pay TV channel MSNBC. According to web research company comScore, the collective group of MSNBC site attracts over 50-million unique visitors a month.