(MSFT) Microsoft and NBC Sports Collaborate

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and NBC Sports Group have announced a partnership to use Windows Azure Media Services across NBC Sports’ digital platforms.

NBC Sports is the sports division of the NBC television network. The group broadcasts premier sporting events and its diverse program portfolio includes “Sunday Night Football,” PGA TOUR, Triple Crown horse racing, French Open tennis, Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Premier League soccer, Formula One and Indy Car racing, Notre Dame Football, U.S. Open golf and Major League Soccer.

According to the agreement, NBC Sports Group will adopt Microsoft’s Windows Azure Media Services for its digital platforms, including NBCSports.com, NBCOlympics.com and GolfChannel.com, starting this summer. Windows Azure Media Services will provide both live as well as on-demand video streaming services related to games and events on laptops, tablets, smartphones and PCs.

The alliance will broaden the reach of both the companies going forward. NBC will be able to reach a broader customer base and Microsoft will be able to expand its range of cloud offerings.

Windows Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of its managed datacenters. Windows Azure core services include Media Services, Mobile Services, Cloud Services, Virtual Machines, Websites and Big Data. It competes with Amazon’s (AMZN) AWS cloud computing platform and the OpSource Cloud Computing Services.

IDC predicts that the cloud market may jump 130% reaching $43.0 billion in 2016. Further, Gartner predicts that around $677.0 billion may be spent on cloud services within the 2013–2016 time frame. Microsoft, with its solid portfolio and growing partnerships should be able to tap this opportunity.

Microsoft remains one of the best positioned software vendors, given its wide range of products, emerging markets strength, continued technology deployment at data centers and growth in cloud computing. The company delivered better-than-expected second quarter results with non-GAAP earnings up sequentially. New products across segments, strength in the cloud computing segment and share gains in search combined to generate the encouraging results.

However, Microsoft is also battling the slump in the PC market caused by the sluggish economy. Therefore, it is important for the company to focus on emerging segments such as mobile hardware and the cloud.

Currently, Microsoft has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other stocks in the sector that are performing well currently include Intersil Corporation (ISIL) and Priceline.com Inc. (PCLN), both carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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