Long a fixture of checkout queues and newsstand kiosks, the celebrity news publisher The National Enquirer will soon bring its salacious storytelling online for the first time in its 96-year-old history.
The publisher, along with its sister sites Globe, National Examiner and The National Enquirer U.K., will join the digital age later this year, part of a broader renaissance of the tabloid portfolio envisioned by its new ownership group, a joint venture called VVIP Ventures.
The partnership, whose roughly $100 million acquisition of the properties in February remains pending a shareholder vote, will combine the digital media company Vinco Ventures and a new company, Icon Publishing, created by Ted Farnsworth, the former chairman of the theater subscription service MoviePass.
Under VVIP Ventures, the company aims to use the brand equity of The National Enquirer to launch a sizable digital advertising division, which will complement its profitable print advertising and subscription business.
“We will be the largest aggregator of celebrity content,” Farnsworth said. “And we will monetize it with scale, targeting and sweepstakes.”
To lead the new company, Vinco Ventures has hired James Robertson as its chief executive officer and president and Chris Polimeni as its chief financial officer and chief operating officer, Adweek can exclusively report. The two appointments take effect immediately.
The ambitious undertaking reflects an unusual iteration of a timeworn strategy, in which deep-pocketed investors acquire and renovate iconic if distressed media properties.
Although financially healthy, The National Enquirer endured a number of painful imbroglios during the Trump presidency, including a catch-and-kill scandal, hush money payments and accusations of blackmail from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
By ushering the operations online, VVIP Ventures hopes to court a broad audience interested in its reporting, then convert that traffic into digital advertising revenue primarily through open-market programmatic.
The company has also struck a licensing deal with a360 Media, which gives it access to digital content from the brands In Touch, Star, Closer and others, making the network of sites a hub for celebrity news. VVIP Ventures also hopes to make a number of acquisitions in the near future, and it has extended nearly a dozen letters of intent, according to Farnsworth.