Blendle; ‘Journalism Without Subscriptions, Without Ads and Without Clickbait’

Launched a year ago in the Netherlands, Blendle is a ‘pay-per-article’ media portal which allows Dutch users to consume magazine and newspaper articles, whilst charging micropayments for only the articles that are read.

The start-up has announced that it is expanding to Germany where it has signed up all the major publications (yes all of them) including Bild, Die Welt, National, Der Spiegel and Die Zeit. Techcrunch reports that the service will be launching in the U.S next, and has already signed with New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.

Blendle believes that it’s cost model is a more user friendly alternative to paywalls. Articles cost 20 cents on average - a variable price which is set by the original publisher. Users input their payment details when they sign up the service. After that, payments are made instantaneously by simply clicking on a headline. Blendle co-founder Alexander Klöpping told Natasha Lomas of Techcrunch;

“More and more content from publishers goes behind hard paywalls (WSJ, FT, Time Magazine, etc.) or metered paywalls. Blendle works as an EZpass for journalism, with all publishers that join. And we’ll only join if we have the majority of publishers on board,”

Blendle offers a refund function which is one of the ways it helps ease users through the psychological barrier of paying for media online. If a customer feels that the article they read isn’t worth the fee they can get a refund once they’ve explained why they didn’t enjoy it. Blendle says this function is used only 5% of the time an article is opened and read. In a Medium piece marking 365 days of business, Klöpping say’s he can see a resurgence in quality long form journalism and that Blendle might just be the model that’s makes it work economically.

‘We don’t sell a lot of news in Blendle. People apparently don’t want to spend money on something they can get everywhere for free now. People do spend money on background pieces. Great analysis. Opinion pieces. Long interviews. Stuff like that. In other words: people don’t want to spend money on the ‘what’, they want to spend money on the ‘why’.Our users punish clickbait by refunding….At Blendle we see this every day. Gossip magazines, for example, get much higher refund percentages than average (some up to 50% of purchases), as some of them are basically clickbait in print. People will only pay for content they find worth their money. So in Blendle, only quality journalism starts trending. It might actually be so that micropayments will result in better journalism. As a publisher, you have to invest in incredible journalism to be able to sell them on a per-article basis. Luckily, a lot of incredible journalism is being produced every day’.