Analysts: MSNBC.com Deal Helps NBCUniversal With Branding, Stock Valuation

5:35 AM PST 07/16/2012 by Georg Szalai
NPR

NBC News chief digital officer Vivian Schiller will now oversee an expanded NBC News Digital unit, with a new MSNBC site next year possibly focusing on liberal spin.

NBCUniversal Monday morning made official a deal with Microsoft that will see the entertainment conglomerate take full control and end the joint ownership of msnbc.com for an estimated $300 million.

The current msnbc.com site will become NBCNews.com, with the MSNBC network set to get a new online home next year.

"This is not a big deal financially, but helps tighten branding and corporate presentation," said Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan. "It probably fosters more efficient management at NBC News and the other co-branded TV sites like Today."

He also said that an MSNBC news site with a liberal bent "might have been tougher and more controversial with Microsoft there." But now, "they can run amok on the liberal spin on their own while preserving the hard news integrity with NBCNews.com," Harrigan said.

The analyst also said that Comcast-controlled NBCUniversal has now cleaned up most of its shared holdings. "They have pretty much finished tinkering in all likelihood, increasing stakes as with [theme] parks and exiting as with A&E Networks," he said.

Echoed Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce: "NBCUniversal is simplifying its structure and investment thesis again, which should help valuation recognition" by investors.

NBC News president Steve Capus formally announced the deal that makes NBC News the full owner and operator of the complete Msnbc Digital Network, which includes msnbc.com, today.com, NightlyNews.com, BreakingNews.com, Newsvine.com and EveryBlock.com.

All of NBC News’ digital businesses, including theGrio.com, NBCLatino.com, NBCPolitics.com, EducationNation.com and various social media and digital initiatives will combine to form a new division called NBC News Digital, headed by Vivian Schiller, senior vp & chief digital officer of NBC News.

"Today, NBC News enters a new phase of its history better positioned to compete and grow in a digital environment, as well as deliver consumers and clients a multi-platform news experience unlike anything else in the industry,” said Capus.

“This deal represents so many opportunities for NBC News, including the ability to better align television with digital, innovate around how we deliver content to consumers, and fully integrate digital into everything that we do,” said Schiller. “Through this new structure, we’ll grow by engaging users with our content directly, and on every platform. This is a different model from the rest, and given where the future of online news is trending, we see it as a model with staying power.”


Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

comments powered by Disqus