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Comcast has purchased Microsoft’s 50 percent stake in MSNBC.com and renamed the news site NBCNews.com, the New York Times reported.
The move signifies a big commitment by NBCUniversal’s parent into its news division.
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Now, “we will fully own our digital businesses,” NBC News president Steve Capus said.
Comcast is paying Microsoft about $300 million for its stake, the Times reported, citing anonymous sources. The Times added that a portion of the total price “comes from the joint venture’s past profits. ”
Meanwhile, MSNBC.com will relaunch early next year as a “stand-alone site” for the cable network MSNBC.
NBCUniversal bought out Microsoft’s stake in the cable channel in 2005, but the latter still oversaw the ad sales part of the website’s business, an arrangement that NBC executives felt hindered their ability to work with advertisers who wanted to buy ads on both the TV newscasts and websites.
“It’s undeniable how big a part of all of our businesses the digital properties are going to be,” Capus said. “We think we have a much better opportunity to shape them, and frankly grow the news division overall, if we have direct control over all of it.”
According to recent comScore data, MSNBC ranks No. 4 among all general news sites in the U.S., with 55.7 million monthly visitors, behind Yahoo-ABC News (89.1 million), Huffington Post (59.4 million) and CNN (57.4 million).
MSNBC, meanwhile, ranks as the No. 2 cable news network, behind Fox News Channel. MSNBC averaged 689,000 total viewers in second-quarter 2012, compared to Fox’s 1.79 million.
MSNBC.com will now automatically redirect to NBCNews.com. A new logo will be the only changes Internet surfers see at first, with more to come.
Production will move from Washinton to New York with the exception of some engineers and technical employees.
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