MSNBC.com to Change Name?

The New York Times’ Brian Stelter writes about MSNBC.com maybe changing its name…

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 second 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 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.

So, despite all the claims to the contrary by Steve Capus and Phil Griffin that MSNBC’s primetime cannot possibly harm or damage NBC News or its reputation, not to mention MSNBC dayside, because viewers are smart enough to separate the two, as they’ve said to us over and over again in statements and interviews, NBC is thinking about spinning off the news website precisely because MSNBC primetime is damaging MSNBC.com and the viewers aren’t smart enough to separate the two. Buth of these scenarios can’t be correct because they’re contradictory so one of them is wrong. And since actions speak louder than words, you can guess which one I think is wrong.

For years MSNBC the TV network wouldn’t change its name to NBC News Channel even though Microsoft; the MS in MSNBC no longer played a role in the TV network. This is widely believed to be because the website, which Microsoft still had a role in, was too important a branding portal to the TV network to change the TV network’s name. Now, NBC is mulling changing the news website’s name and leaving the TV network’s name unchanged which makes MSNBC TV’s name even more ridiculous. And they can’t change it now.

Let’s look at what this means. It means no more MSNBC.com logo in the corner of NBC Nightly News as it will be replaced by whatever name NBC comes up with. But more importantly, for the MSNBC news part of the TV network it creates a new wall between itself and NBC News because the two will now be further apart than they ever were before in the public’s eye. And then there us the damage that MSNBC TV gets from losing the MSNBC.com news portal. So much for synergy.

I do not see upside in this for NBC, MSNBC.com, nor MSNBC TV. I just see confusion and trouble ahead. This is a shockingly bad idea.

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23 Responses to “MSNBC.com to Change Name?”

  1. MSNBC.com is my home page. I know it as the NBC News webpage, with links to NBC News and MSNBC TV content. It’s not confusing. They’re crazy.

  2. clindhartsen Says:

    So, the plan is to change the already awkard brand, which we’re all used to (msnbc.com) to something else? Maybe they’ll take over the NBC website, or maybe NBCNews.com , but it just seems like that’d be destroying YEARS of burning msnbc.com into our minds.

  3. Exactly!

  4. We’reNotFox.com

    Drop the pretense…..if there is any left.

  5. Just rename the talk block on MSNBC if they think this is a problem. Something like NBC Talk on MSNBC. Renaming MSNBC.com is STUPID!

  6. lonestar77 Says:

    I guess I’m in the minority but if the website is supposed to be a non-partisan site, they should change the name. I think it looks ridiculous when you see the MSNBC logo at the bottom of the screen during an NBC News broadcast. Like it or not, when people think of MSNBC, they think of it in the same way they think of the Daily Kos.

    Also, I think MSNBC has done damage to NBC news’ reputation. I don’t watch NBC news and I don’t watch MTP any more either. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  7. LS, those are annoyingly good points.

  8. Why can’t LS go a day without taking a cheap shot at MSNBC? I understand the hatred, but every opinion channel does “damage” to its original brand. As if Fox News’ ridiculously bias programming hasn’t damaged its supposed “straight news“?

    A lot of things Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity spout is regurgitated in a “straight news” format by the likes of Megyn Kelly, Martha Macallum, and Bret Baier. Kevin Jennings? ACORN? New Black Panthers? Come on.

  9. Also, I think MSNBC has done damage to NBC news’ reputation. I don’t watch NBC news and I don’t watch MTP any more either. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    I would agree but I continue to the believe that the damage done to MSNBC TV and its dayside news operation would be worse than the damage done to NBC News and MSNBC.com if they did change the name.

  10. lonestar77 Says:

    Thanks, Joe…I think.

    ProgLib: I didn’t take a “cheap shot”. If you read one, you interpreted something that wasn’t there.

    Spud: Who knows? You definitely know way more about this stuff than I do, though, so maybe you’re on to something.

  11. Maybe they’ll change the name of the whole thing to NBCast.

  12. imnotblue Says:

    ProgLib Says:
    October 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Why are you, and other angry left-wingers able to attack FNC daily for reasons real and make-believe… and yet, the moment someone says something semi-negative, less-than-positive, mildly-non-complimentary, they’re wrong and taking “cheap shots?”

    I really dislike these double standards.

  13. I really dislike these double standards.</I.

    Me, too. Fox sucks half the time. MSNBC sucks half the time. CNN..ALL the time. Glad we cleared that up.

  14. HTML sucks.

  15. I think the new “Lean Forward” campaign has branded the entire network as progressive. Therefore, I see no need to be concerned about MSNBC dayside getting damaged by primetime. If anything, primetime helps dayside since KO, RM, LOD, CM, DR, and ES viewers are more likely to watch MSNBC and visit msnbc.com for news instead of CNN and its website. The only brand in trouble is NBC News, but I don’t think the damage is that big. Today, MTP, and Nightly News are still #1. They aren’t any more or less biased that ABC or CBS.

  16. …primetime helps dayside since KO, RM, LOD, CM, DR, and ES viewers are more likely to watch MSNBC and visit msnbc.com for news instead of CNN and its website.

    Yep. That’s me to a T.

  17. As someone who watches a lot of MSNBC I doubt viewership at MSNBC NBC or CNBC or usage of MSNBC.com will change much if MSNBC.com changes it’s name.

    There may be some initial confusion but really websites change there names and their look on a pretty regular basis. Will anyone here change their website usage habits or alter their cable news viewing habits if this change occurs? I really doubt it.

  18. imnotblue Says:

    Well, the real problem MSNBC.com bears little resemblance to MSNBC the cable channel. They’re two different entities. Sure, both lean left… but MSNBC.com leans moderately left, while MSNBC the cable channel is almost horizontal.

    What they really need to do to split… have one website that’s opinion, commentary, and hype for the network… and another one that’s simply a hard news site, more closely affiliated with the NBC News division.

    Also, remember that one of the reasons why MSNBC is so popular, is because they have the sub site, MSN.com, which is a standard “favorite place” on many Windows computers. The fact that so many people have MSN.com (and then MSNBC.com) in their Internet Explorer window is equal parts good web design, and pre-installed application.

  19. “What they really need to do to split… have one website that’s opinion, commentary, and hype for the network… and another one that’s simply a hard news site, more closely affiliated with the NBC News division.”

    That works well for Fox with Foxnews.com & Fox Nation.

  20. iamfirmin Says:

    Unless you change the direction (leaning left) of nbc news.. THIS IS a silly business decision.
    Why go thru the exercise.??

  21. imnotblue Says:

    fritz3 Says:
    October 6, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I can’t tell if that’s serious or sarcasm.

    But FOX Nation is a different beast, really. That’s more a blogging and conference site, than an opinion journalism site. It’s design is to get people talking, not to have real pundits post their opinions and stories.

  22. [...] it got me to wondering about whatever happened to that story Brian Stelter scooped on concerning MSNBC.com getting rebranded. That was over a year ago and there hasn’t been a peep regarding it since. Share [...]

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