Brand News: MSNBC Mulling Name Change for its Website

Report: Executives fear visitors confusing straightforward news of MSNBC.com with cable channel’s lefty hosts

Last Updated: October 6, 2010 @ 2:58 PM

Fearful that its loud, left-leaning cable channel programming and straightforward news website have become too divergent for the same web destination, MSNBC is apparently mulling a name change for MSNBC.com.

The New York Times reports that executives at NBC Universal and Microsoft – which own MSNBC.com — are considering “NBCNews.com” for its news coverage, and making MSNBC.com a site solely to promotes the cable channel’s shows. (For what its worth, NBCNews.com already redirects to MSNBC.com.)

The report comes on the heels of MSNBC’s announcement of a new tagline, “Lean Forward.”

It would be a risky move, considering MSNBC.com – with an average of 50 million unique visitors a month — is the third-highest trafficked destination for news on the Web.

According to a March memo obtained by the Times, MSNBC.com president Charlie Tillinghast said “naming them the same thing is brand insanity.”

A representative for MSNBC declined to comment, saying, "it's an internal issue."

Earlier this year, I asked Phil Griffin, MSNBC’s president, whether or not the cable channel would undergo a name change after NBC Universal’s merger with Comcast is finalized, or if he thought Comcast would consider rebranding NBCU. “I don’t believe it,” Griffin said.

Speaking of brand confusion, MSN and MSNBC.com recently soft-launched a completely new digital news brand for its political coverage of Washington – BLTWY – with a flashy, headache-inducing website.