Would You Pay 25 Cents to Read an Article? Blendle Certainly Thinks So

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 4.28.10 PMSteve’s breakdown: It’s been called the “iTunes of News” but we think they are going to have to convince more of the print media and their readers it’s fair, effective and useful. That’s your cue!

NEW YORK, NY: Blend is a Dutch media startup that lets you pay a few cents for individual news articles online—the much chattered-about micropayments model that’s one of many on a long list of strategies destined to save the business of journalism (or not). And now it’s available in the US.

Instead of paying for a subscription to a publication, Blendle lets you pay for single articles from a range of major publishers on its site. One of the perks: you don’t have to see ads. You also don’t have to pay a monthly subscription for a single publication, or juggle usernames and passwords for all the news sites with paywalls. “We’re seeing more and more restrictions of content,” Alexander Klöpping, the cofounder of Blendle, told WIRED in an interview late last year. “More publishers are moving to a subscription model on the Internet.” He says Blendle is seeking to fix that by giving you access to stories you might otherwise not be able to read—for a fee.

A year ago, most publishers wouldn’t have done it. I think a lot has changed in a short period of time. BLENDLE COFOUNDER ALEXANDER KLÖPPING

For its beta launch, Blendle is working with big names like the The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times. Magazines taking part include those like Time, New York Magazine, and Mother Jones. Newspaper stories will cost on average between 19 and 39 cents per article, while magazine stories will cost on average between 9 and 49 cents. To buy articles, readers can search for them or discover them through the site’s recommendations, like an iTunes for news. (Blendle is experimenting with integrating directly into publisher’s paywalls in Holland, but, for now, you’ll have to pay through Blendle’s site or the soon-to-be-launched US version of its app.)

For the news industry in the US, micropayments are a pretty radical alternative. Traditional publishers have long depended on advertising and subscription revenue to fund their businesses. But as more readers get their news online, and more of those readers are using adblockers, both of those revenue streams are under threat. “A year ago, most publishers wouldn’t have done it. I think a lot has changed in a short period of time,” Klöpping says.

The idea of micropayments for journalism has existed for years, but they’ve never really caught on. On the web, not only does information want to be free, as the ethos goes, but it also wants to be simple. Micropayments add an additional layer of friction. Publishers appear to hope Blendle will be different because it has drawn in thousands of readers in the EU. But ultimately, the success of micropayment depends on how willing you are to pay for what you read.

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