MSNBC.com Tries To Distance Itself From Leftist Cable Bretheren

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by bpcnabe, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. bpcnabe

    bpcnabe

    Memo Hints at Name Change for MSNBC.com
    By BRIAN STELTER
    NBC Universal and Microsoft, the parents of MSNBC.com, are holding high-level talks about a name change, something that could be a risky endeavor for the third most popular news Web site in the United States.

    The two parents have determined that the brand of MSNBC.com, a strictly objective news Web site, is widely confused with MSNBC, the cable channel that has taken a strongly liberal bent in recent years, according to internal memorandums obtained by The New York Times this week.

    Charlie Tillinghast, MSNBC.com’s president, wrote in a memo last March, “Both strategies are fine, but naming them the same thing is brand insanity.” The channel and Web site are already separate companies.

    Alluding to the challenge that the two companies face in conceiving a brand-new news identity, MSNBC.com this week pushed back a board meeting on the topic by three weeks. “Consensus in this case is a tall order,” Mr. Tillinghast wrote in a message to employees Tuesday.

    MSNBC.com’s network of Web sites are visited by almost 50 million Internet users each month, according to ComScore, making it bigger than all but two competitors, Yahoo and CNN.com.

    Under the current plan, the MSNBC.com Web address would become a site exclusively for the cable channel, fulfilling the channel’s desire to have an independent site to promote its programs. The existing news site, called the “Blue site” internally, would move to a new and as-yet-undetermined Web address.

    One of the new names under consideration is NBCNews.com, according to the memos and interviews. The companies are testing entirely new names, as well. The question seems to be: should the parents go with a trusted and recognized name like NBCNews.com or try to build a fresh new brand?

    Representatives for MSNBC.com declined to say what names were being considered, but in a statement, Mr. Tillinghast said, “We have an enviable portfolio of news brands and routinely have strategic conversations about how to maximize them.”

    (The Times and MSNBC.com have an agreement to share some articles and video.)

    Giving up a Web address as popular as MSNBC.com is highly unusual; it is akin to a business closing a bustling storefront and posting a sign that asks customers to visit its new location. For a Web site, at least, the new location is only a click away; nonetheless, MSNBC.com may risk sacrificing years of built-up brand loyalty by coining a new name for the news site.

    The change is being contemplated because MSNBC and MSNBC.com are on somewhat divergent paths.

    They were founded together in 1996 by NBC and Microsoft, with the channel based in New Jersey and the Web site based at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Wash. In 2005, NBC bought out Microsoft’s stake in the cable channel, but two parents remained together for the Web site, which is a crucial provider of content to Microsoft’s MSN.com portal.

    MSNBC.com employees work closely with employees of MSNBC and NBC News. But the Web site has its own reporters, editors, producers, photographers and advertising sales staff. And those employees have at times felt like they were stuck in the shadow of the cable channel.

    In recent years MSNBC’s shift to the left — with hosts like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow — has further complicated the TV/Web relationship. This week, the channel unveiled a splashy new ad campaign and a new tag-line, “Lean Forward,” that reinforces the opinionated nature of the programming.

    The cable channel has been looking for a way to distinguish itself online; the channel’s president, Phil Griffin, briefly discussed an acquisition of The Huffington Post earlier this year, but was rebuffed by its co-founders, as first reported by New York magazine this week.

    Meanwhile, MSNBC.com has remained what Mr. Tillinghast called in Tuesday’s memo an “impartial news product.”

    Mr. Tillinghast wrote that the “Lean Forward” announcement “only exacerbates the brand misalignment problem” that he has been trying to solve. He expressed the hope that MSNBC.com’s board members could agree on a new name at a mid-November board meeting, so that “we will have our future identity known before Thanksgiving and be able to move forward with focus and certainty from there.”
     
  2. Ricter

    Ricter

    Big whoop. Coulter is rebranding herself, too, amidst falling sales to her old market.
     
  3. jem

    jem

    coulter does seem to be rebranding on that late night news comedy on fox.