News Corp‘s web incubator Sligshot Labs has finally let its new gossip and entertainment news site, Daily Fill, out of the bag. And it’s hit the ground running, racking up 1.3 million unique visitors in January alone during its beta release. At this rate, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company expects to catch up with competitors TMZ and Perez Hilton sooner rather than later.
For the most part, Daily Fill is no different from the gaggle of other sites and aggregators that offer celebrity tidbits with a snarky or humorous twist. If anything, it errs on the side of more photos and less text — and arguably, less witty headlines. Today’s news mix includes such gems as, “Sorry I strangled you, here’s an iPod,” concerning the troubled relationship between singers Chris Brown and Rihanna, and “Nicole Richie is pregnant again; trying to catch octuplet mom.” A sizable portion of the homepage is also devoted to random photos of pseudo-celebrities under the heading “Hot Photos.” And it pulls most of its content from peer sites Egotastic, Gossip Girls and parparazzi haven Exposay.
With ideas like these, the site’s only clear advantage is its powerful friends. And that is a force to be reckoned with. Its place in the News Corp galaxy guarantees it a high-profile start, generous marketing, and key partnerships with popular subsidiaries MySpace and the New York Post’s famed Page Six. In fact, Slingsot Labs is run by former MySpace executives Josh Berman and Colin Digiaro, who say they are on the lookout for social media opportunities.
Still, this doesn’t mean Daily Fill can rest on its laurels. News Corp tried to spin Page Six into an online property once before, and it only survived three months. It’s certainly not an easy segment to compete in, and it’s hard to believe that snapshots of barely relevant celebrities (read: Audrina Patridge) will prove any match for the wry wordsmithing of established sites like The Superficial and Gawker Media’s Defamer.
When VentureBeat last covered Daily Fill shortly after its beta announcement in November, we also noted the site’s shabby design and assumed it would be gussied up before official release. But nothing much has changed. The site’s layout gives it the gritty, haphazard feel of a supermarket tabloid. But then maybe that’s the goal.