NBCUniversal Eyes Acquisition of Microsoft's MSNBC.com Stake

"The Rachel Maddow Show"
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Maddow's best ratings came during the 2008 presidential election, and MSNBC execs are banking 2012 will produce a similar lift.

The Comcast-controlled entertainment company is looking to buy out its partner in the Web destination.


NBCUniversal is in talks to buy Microsoft's 50 percent stake in its joint venture MSNBC.com, Adweek reported.

Financial details weren't immediately clear, but a deal would end the remaining core part of a partnership struck in the mid-1990s before the first Internet boom.

In 2005, NBCUniversal agreed to buy out Microsoft's stake in cable network MSNBC.

MSNBC.com is the Web destination for both NBC News and MSNBC, but has separate staff. If NBCUniversal reaches a buyout deal, it could launch a separate NBC News site and bring MSNBC.com's content more in line with the network's more liberal primetime lineup.

Adweek suggested that MSNBC personalities Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews could get stronger Web exposure if a deal is reached.

A transaction would likely include an agreement that would allow the site to retain some of the traffic it gets from being placed on Microsoft's MSN portal. In April, MSNBC.com had 55.7 million unique visitors, according to comScore data cited by Adweek.

Spokespeople for NBCUniversal, the entertainment arm of cable giant Comcast Corp., and Microsoft didn't comment on the status of talks about MSNBC.com.

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