Monday, June 12, 2017

Facebook Building Feature That Will Enable Users to Subscribe to News Publications

Facebook is building a feature that would allow users to subscribe to news publications directly from the mobile app, and the new feature is expected to roll out by the end of 2017.  The terms of the partnership have not been finalized but there have been some discussions about making the feature available only on stories published natively to Facebook through its Instant Articles product, a metered-payment model, which would allow users to read some articles for free each month before prompting them to pay, and Facebook potential (or lack of) revenues

Currently, publishers are emphasizing digital subscriptions to power revenue growth.  The new feature would provide another avenue to potentially get paid for its content (vs. giving away content for free in Instant Articles).  The new features seems like it is trying to compete with Google’s “First Click Free” program, which allows Google visitors to bypass paywalls but asks them to subscribe to the related publisher after a certain number of free articles have been read by the users.  However, I believe Facebook is more powerful than Google’s program for publishers as the news articles will be in the users’ Facebook newsfeed vs. having to search for news in Google. 

The new feature’s success will be determined by the participation of the news publishers.  New York Times and the Washington Post have more lenient paywalls but publishers such as the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times have stricter paywalls.  However, this new feature can provide smaller publishers with a bigger audience, more recognition and potential revenues for their content that individuals would not normally pay for. 

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