The Reading Room

Is Blendle the iTunes of news?

Dutch journalism startup and news aggregator Blendle has been making quite a splash with over 140,000 subscribers in its first six months of operations.

It offers content from a range of Dutch and English-speaking publishers to users who pay by the article rather than buy the whole paper online. The company says 20 percent are paying for access to articles once they’ve read their allotted free content.

Likening this kind of consumption of journalism to iTunes style individual song purchasing, rather than buying the whole album, co-founder Alexander Klöpping, interviewed on Radio 4’s The Media Show, said: “People are not as much interested in one newspaper anymore, they want to read the best of everything. At the same time they want to read one article and not have to buy the whole bundle.”

In an era of paywalls and publishers struggling to get to grips with the new economics of the digital world, he sees no reason why media outlets would not want to get on board with this micro-payments model. “There are people paying for journalism now who were not paying for journalism before Blendle, so it’s an extra revenue stream basically.”

More than half of Blendle’s users are under 35 and many of them have no history of paying for news before signing up. The concept has been sufficiently intriguing for Axel Springer and the New York Times to invest €3 million ($3.8 million) to help Blendle grow and make a greater international impact.

Flipboard has proved a success by providing a range of content from different sources that users can tailor, article by article, into their own digital magazines. So no wonder all eyes are now on Blendle to see if this latest personalised media model can work outside of Holland’s relatively small market, particularly in an English speaking world of massive free online content.

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