The big re-branding of MSNBC.com to NBCNews.com is just phase one of a long-term strategy to completely change the digital strategy of NBC News and MSNBC. On a conference call with reporters today, NBC News president Steve Capus, MSNBC president Phil Griffin and NBC News’ chief digital executive Vivian Schiller explained what is going to happen down the line.
The basics have already been announced: NBCNews.com launches now, with a new MSNBC.com launching in early 2013. NBC will launch the “NBC News Innovation Center” in Seattle, Washington, not far from MSNBC.com’s old headquarters in Redmond, Washington. “We are going to keep a sizable number of the employees in this venture, based in the Seattle area,” Capus said.
Schiller says that as part of the deal, NBC has acquired the proprietary technology that powered MSNBC.com, and that while no NBCNews.com redesign is imminent, there is work happening on that front.
“Over time, you will see changes to the site, absolutely,” Schiller said.
Most likely a redesigned NBCNews.com would launch alongside the new MSNBC.com early next year.
Speaking of MSNBC.com, Griffin was excited about the prospect of having a dedicated site to feature content of its own. Griffin says that MSNBC’s goal is “to own the space that is really wide open and that is the smart progressive space.”
“We are going to reflect, obviously, all that we do on TV, and use the people on TV, but we are going to go beyond that, we are going to hire people, we are going to do our own kind of columns and reporting on our site,” Griffin said. “There are a lot of successful point of view websites out there, but virtually none have an alignment, digitally. FoxNews.com I think comes the closest, but that is about it.”
One thing that will not change is the channel’s name. Capus said that as part of the deal with Microsoft, NBC can continue using the MSNBC name in perpetuity. “We have 16 years of brand equity built up around this channel, and around MSNBC.com,” Capus said, adding that having two different sites “is going to clear up the brand confusion that has come up, to some extent.”