Facebook is likely to start testing its paywall for subscription news stories as early as October. As explained in our earlier article, Facebook will soon let people subscribe to its Instant Articles, which enables new publishers to distribute their content via the Facebook app. The subscription was reported to be planned for paywall and freemium models.
A spokesperson confirmed that Facebook is in early talks with several news publishers on how to support the subscription business models on Facebook. The report also reveals that Facebook is closely working with these partners to understand their requirements and find ways to enhance the overall experience.
The idea is said to be in early stages of development and, therefore, subject to change. The basic premise is to work with a handful of publishers to deliver a complement of ten articles per month. After viewing ten articles from the media firm, the user would be prompted to enroll in a subscription to that publication or log into another active one. The number of free articles is inflexible at 10, even though publishers that typically use a paywall permit various numbers of free articles for thirty days. Facebook wants to make sure that there is consistency in the offering.
It is still unclear and nothing is transparent on how the cost of the subscriptions will be taken from those who join through the Facebook paywall. The company is also looking at options to phase out the 30 percent cut that the operator takes from digital funds.
The only piece of confirmed information is that media firms will participate, while everything still seems unclear and in early stages of discussion. We assume the company will be evolving its subscription service for Instant Articles based on input from various quarters.
Facebook has been in touch with media partners either one-on-one meetings or roundtables staged in New York and Paris recently to understand the business model and requirements in greater detail.
Facebook Instant Articles will join Apple News in offering a paid subscription news service as an alternative to mainstream Google News. While Apple relies on traffic from its iOS users, Facebook’s 2 billion users constitute a much larger pool of potential customers for Instant Articles.