NBCUniversal and its parent company, Comcast, have been talking seriously with Microsoft about buying out the Redmond company’s stake in their msnbc.com joint venture, according to a report this afternoon by AdWeek.

The story quotes “several sources” with first-hand knowledge of the situation saying that Comcast is conducting its due diligence as a prelude to a possible deal to end the joint venture by this summer. Executives with the companies aren’t commenting on the report.

Msnbc.com is operated separately from the msnbc cable channel. The television property was originally an NBC-Microsoft joint venture, as well, before NBC purchased Microsoft’s stake in the cable joint venture. AdWeek says NBCU wants control of the web property in part to give its msnbc television personalities a higher online profile.

The buyout could include a provision to continue promoting msnbc.com from the MSN home page, a significant driver of traffic. If the joint venture is unwound, one question is whether msnbc.com would remain based on the Microsoft campus in Redmond.

(Note: GeekWire is a media partner of msnbc.com, which publishes selected GeekWire stories.)

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  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    Honestly, I wondered why Microsoft didn’t fully divest itself from MSNBC when they sold most of their stake in the cable operations to NBC in 2005.

    MSNBC and Slate were part of Microsoft’s early Internet content experiments back in 1996. They sold off Slate at the end of 2004 and gave up most (eventually all) of the cable part of MSNBC in 2005. It made sense: that experiment just didn’t really work out (Microsoft not being strong as a content company).

    What left me puzzled was why they separated the cable and web parts in 2005 and Microsoft held on to it’s part of the web part.

    Sounds like NBC wants to reunite the cable and web parts, which makes sense given the way that television is being swallowed by the Internet. In a way, it kind of shows that the idea back in 1996 was ahead of its time.
    I’d expect that MSNBC.COM would be packed up and shipped to be consolidated with the rest of NBCU’s online presences. Interestingly, a quick look on Netcraft shows NBC.COM runs Apache so there might be a platform migration in their future too.

    • Guest

      Because Ballmer has enough visible failures without drawing attention to others.

  • Guest

    Sell it. Ballmer has enough challenges without useless distractions.

  • Guest

    I think now is a good time for Microsoft to exit. MSNBC is one of the most popular cable channels in the world and Microsoft would be right to take their profits and invest in other ventures instead.

    • Guest

      This isn’t about the cable channel. MSFT already sold their interest in that.

      This is about the web property, which has been run separately from the cable channel since the full divestiture in 2008.

  • Guest

    A lot of talent flight form MSNBC.com lately. I wonder if this is the reason why.

    • Guest

       One reason maybe – I haven’t heard good things about working there.

  • Zulily Tom

    My theory? The bid is solely an effort to get Budos on board at NBC.

  • Guest

    Wow. If they’re this deep into due diligence, the deal is quite likely to happen.

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