Startup Bundles News Articles Like iTunes For A Pay-As-You-Read Model [Video]
Blendle aggregates all major journalism content in one place, and allows you to pick and choose what to pay for.
As publications move to expand their digital content, many publications still require you to sign up for a monthly or yearly subscription to get past their paywall. And, unfortunately, it is not uncommon to come across singular articles that you would like to read but pass up to avoid lengthy subscriptions. A new journalism venture is aiming to change this model.
Blendle is a startup out of the Netherlands that has partnered with most of the country’s major newspapers and magazines to collect all of their articles in a single online app, with one paywall. Dubbed the “iTunes of journalism,” Blendle only charges users for the articles they read in an attempt to “unbundle” journalism to get young people to start paying for articles on a regular basis.
In a post on Medium.com, co-founder Alexander Klöpping describes the unbundling model as the “Holy Grail” of reaching younger demographics, and compares Blendle to other content providers succeeding with this framework:
Not so long ago, people didn’t think individuals were ever going to pay for music again. Pirating was so widespread that a lot of people thought: What service could possibly beat free downloading? And then came iTunes. And then came Spotify. For the first time in their lives, our friends are paying for music. And it doesn’t stop there. They also spend quite a lot of money on apps, even paying for movies and TV-shows with Netflix. However, none of them pay regularly for journalism — they never have. And a lot of publishers think they never will.
A simpler way to consume journalistic content, Blendle also allows users to personalize what content gets presented to them. Users can see the articles their friends or public figures have shared, as well as which articles are trending. Blendle also acts as a search engine for journalistic content, allowing users to find and follow specific subjects. The app enables easy sharing on social media, and users are no longer required to sign in to an array of different paywalls. One click, and you pay only for the articles you are actually reading.
All article prices are set by the publisher, but users can receive a refund if they don’t think an article was worth reading (on a fair use basis). As an added incentive, new users receive $3.50 worth of content for free and the Blendle wallet is continually refillable. While the refund policy might seem easily gamed, it has actually increased the amount spent during the beta trial.
Blendle is expected to launch in Holland in April, with other countries to follow suit if the model proves viable on a large scale. See a bit more about how it works below.