AdWeek‘s Mike Shields reports that NBCUniversal is in talks with Microsoft to buy the tech company’s stake in MSNBC.com.
Several sources with first-hand knowledge of the situation say that negotiations between the two companies have progressed to the stage where NBCU parent company Comcast is conducting its due diligence. They said that the partnership could be unwound by this summer.
A spokesperson confirmed to TVNewser that conversations were taking place between the two companies.
Microsoft sold a majority stake in the cable channel MSNBC to NBCU back in 2005, but it maintained control of the website, which is an enormously popular online destination.
The deal, if consummated, could result in two separate websites, NBCNews.com and a reworked MSNBC.com, according to an NBC News staffer.
Inside NBC, there has been talk of a new website for weeks. The site is believed to be NBCNews.com, which would serve as a news hub, as well as the online home for programs like “NBC Nightly News,” “Meet the Press” and “Rock Center.” MSNBC.com would probably serve as the home for the cable channel’s politically-focused programming and news.
One of the big sticking points inside of the company was the fact that MSNBC.com wasn’t able to capitalize on the TV news organization’s personalities or scoops as well as some of its competitors. While NBC News and MSNBC programs and stories have always had a role (sometimes even a prominent one) on the site, there wasn’t the flexibility to feature certain stories or videos as CNN has with CNN.com, or ABC has with ABCNews.com.
Shields notes that whatever the site ends up being called, it would likely receive prominent placement on MSN.com, which serves as a major traffic driver to the site. Fox Sports is a content partner for MSN, so it would not be that crazy for NBC News to have a role in a similar capacity. It isn’t clear what would happen to MSNBC.com staffers, some of whom work out of NBC News bureaus in New York, Washington and elsewhere, and many of whom work out of Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington headquarters.