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.