Microsoft has finally ended its partnership with NBC. The divorce comes after exactly 16 years of an increasingly strained relationship. NBC Universal, which is now majority owned by Comcast, is acquiring the Microsoft stake in the joint venture MSNBC.com for a reported $300 million. The site, which attracts 50 million visitors a month, has been rapidly rebranded NBCNews.com.
MSNBC.com launched in 1996 alongside MSNBC TV. The intention of the pioneering partnership was to create a cable news channel that merged broadcasting with emerging online media. Against a background of massive change in the media market, differing business priorities and the physical distance between Seattle and New York, they gradually grew apart.
Microsoft began to unwind its relationship with NBC Universal in 2005 but retained co-ownership of the web site, while NBC continued as the exclusive news provider for MSN. Breakup talks resumed after Comcast acquired a majority stake in NBC Universal in early 2011. The divorce was confirmed exactly 16 years after the partnership was launched.
NBC News President Steve Capus said the NBCNews.com site would become part of NBC News Digital, a new division led by Vivian Schiller, the former president and chief executive of National Public Radio, who joined NBC News as chief digital officer last year.
MSNBC.com will be re-launched in early 2013 as a standalone site for the cable channel of that name.
Microsoft now plans to launch a new operation based on multiple news sources, apparently using technology and data to deliver news in new and innovative ways.