NBC News has acquired full control of msnbc.com and its digital network from Microsoft Corp. and is immediately rebranding the site as NBCNews.com. NBC News President Steve Capus said the site — one of the news industry's earliest and most successful online operations — would become part of NBC News Digital, a new division led by Vivian Schiller, the former president and chief executive of National Public Radio. Schiller joined NBC News as chief digital officer last year.
"Some really talented journalists have passed through the doorway of msnbc.com and taken us to the point where we have something that is an outstanding set of properties, and we value them to such a degree that we decided that we wanted to own them outright," she said.
In the short term, msnbc.com will reflect the homepage of NBCNews.com. Eventually, it will become the address of MSNBC TV, giving MSNBC TV its own dedicated address and ending an arrangement under which the news site shared the MSNBC name with an increasingly commentary-driven channel.
Charlie Tillinghast, the site's president and publisher, said NBC News would benefit from "proper brand alignment between the TV properties and their Web counterparts — NBC News and NBCNews.com, MSNBC cable and msnbc.com and TODAY show and TODAY.com."
"We've had great success combining TV, desktop, mobile and iTV (Internet TV) where the value is greater than the sum of the parts," he said. "That requires both the brand alignment and product integration that is possible only with a wholly owned unit."
For now, visitors should see little difference. "It'll have a new name and a new URL, but everything else will be the same," Tillinghast said.
Capus said that even though the name would change, the site's focus on hard news and original reporting would stay the same. The site has won the highest awards in online journalism, including last year's National Headliner Award for best television-affiliated website.
"There's nothing wrong with what's there," he said. "There's nothing that needs to be fixed."
Instead, the new arrangement "plays to our strengths," he said.
"NBC News has the most diverse portfolio of offerings of any news organization in the country, period," Capus said. "We were in a joint venture in the area with the biggest growth in the news and information space, and we would like to control our own future."