On October 27 the New York Times and Axel Springer announced their joint 23% stake (3M€) in a start-up online news venture in the Netherlands, Blendle. Blendle uses the iTunes business model to sell news articles from multiple sources online on a per-article basis. Co-founder Alexander Klöpping says the subscriber experience should be fluid and intuitive and uses the analogy of buying a glass of wine without buying the whole bottle.
Blendle, launched in April 2014, already has over 130 000 registered subscribers in the Netherlands and 20% of users have topped up their account balance to consume more articles. When a user signs up, he or she gets a credit of 2,50€ and can top up the balance with amounts of 5, 10 or 20€. The participating publication determines the price of the article (between 1 – 80 centimes of euro) and gets 70% of the revenue, the other 30% go to Blendle. At a time when revenues from print advertising are falling dramatically, Blendle has provoked a lot of interest. Two thirds of Blendle users are under 35.
“Carry on renewing your traditional subscribers and we will sell your content to all the others” Klöpping tells publications. Over 40 newspapers and magazines have been enrolled to sell their content on the platform in the Netherlands and recently the Economist (UK) also signed up to sell specific articles on the platform. Newspaper circulation per capita in the Netherlands (17m population) is among the highest in the developed world, behind Scandinavia and Japan.
Blendle is also a social platform with a system of followers similar to that of Twitter. Users can buy an article recommended by a celebrity or a politician who signs up to the platform. You can also follow your friends and share articles you have purchased. You benefit from content curation by people you respect and admire.
At a time when compelling content is expensive to source, an additional channel to monetize existing content can be very attractive to publishers.
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