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Micropayments Save Journalism Industry In This Age Of Cherry-Picking

Online reading news. Vector illustration of online reading news using smartphone

Newspaper readership has fallen to the lowest level since the 1940s and its circulation has reached the lowest household penetration rate in modern history. This doesn’t mean, however, that people are not informed. They are just not as much interested in one newspaper anymore, they want to read the best of everything. Online, readers graze digital newspapers everyday in bits and pieces, through various sources. They want to read one article and not have to buy the whole title.

Blendle, the first company to successfully implement micro-payments for journalism, is en route to turn this issue around. Just as iTunes offered consumers the opportunity to buy individual songs without having to splash out on an entire album, the Dutch start up is providing its users the chance to pay fees as tiny as 20 cents for access to individual articles.

On the backend, publishers set the price and take 70 percent of the revenue while Blendle takes the other 30 percent. While the effects of today’s consumption behavior poses real problems for digital news publications and even for strong brands, those with high quality journalistic content should be able to thrive through this mode regardless of revenue split.

In this age of paywalls and new economics of the digital world, do you think it’s a good idea for digital newspaper brands to go on board with this subscription model? Below is an AFP story telling us that micropayments bandwagon had started to roll even before flaks begin. Are The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post making the right move? Share us your thoughts in the comments!

 [WASHINGTON] Three major US daily newspapers announced plans on Thursday to make their articles available through a Dutch-based startup pioneering the use of “micropayments” for news.

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post agreed to work with Blendle, which describes itself as a “digital newsstand” allowing readers to buy individual articles online, according to a joint statement.

“It’s a great honour that three of the most important newspapers in the world will start working with us,” said Blendle-founder Alexander Klopping in the statement released by the New York Times.

The New York Times and German publisher Axel Springer agreed last year to invest in the platform founded by two young Dutch ex-journalists, which charges an average of 20 cents on average per article.

“We are glad to be one of the first American media organisations in Blendle’s international rollout,” said Steve Hills, president and general manager of the Washington Post.

“As the Post’s global audience continues to grow, this platform offers readers a new way to engage with our journalism.”

The price per newspaper or magazine article is set by the publisher and the revenue is split between the publisher and Blendle.

Last year, Blendle said all major Dutch newspapers and magazines had signed up for the service.

Blendle’s entry comes with many publishers struggling to adapt to a move to digital news, with mixed results from paywalls and online subscriptions.

Blendle has some 220,000 users in the Netherlands who pay mostly between 0.15 and 0.30 euros per article, according to its website.

AFP