Valleywag: Microsoft-Yahoo Deal Means Bye-Bye MSNBC.com

Snarky tech blogger Valleywag points out something I hadn’t considered about a Microsoft-owned Yahoo! and how it might change the online news landscape:

Legally, Microsoft can’t keep both news sites, and if it has to choose between the two, Yahoo News would be its natural choice.

Microsoft can’t run both because back when NBC and Microsoft formed MSNBC.com, Microsoft agreed that the venture would be the only source of news on Microsoft sites. A Microsoft-owned Yahoo News would violate that agreement. One of the two properties would have to go.

Expect Microsoft to keep Yahoo News and sell MSNBC.com to NBC Universal, which already owns 82 percent of the associated cable channel.

Despite its cable TV counterpart’s low ratings, MSNBC’s is one of the most popular news sites on the Internet. But not as popular as Yahoo! News, Valleywag says, citing Comscore numbers.

We’ll see what happens. Agreements are made to be broken. But it’s clear, as Microsoft has reduced its ownership stake in the site over the years, that selling off the rest of MSNBC would be on the table should the Yahoo! purchase go through.

MSNBC, meanwhile, recently unveiled a new design and, late last year, purchased social news site Newsvine.

Microsoft: Yahoo deal spells a sale for MSNBC.com

Update: Some aren’t buying that Microsoft would divest MSNBC. It’s too profitable, they say. The exclusive news provider part of the agreement would simply be renegotiated, they say.

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