Blendle Launches in the U.S

In June, Radar wrote about Dutch ‘pay-per-article’ platform Blendle which at that time had just expanded into Germany. Six months later the platform, which charges micropayments on individual articles (rather than a whole publication), has announced a further expansion, this time into the U.S. say the initial launch will be via a Beta version early next year. Co-founder Alexander Klöpping explained to Mădălina Ciobanu how there are slight cultural differences between the way people consume news in different counties. Blendle has been learning how it’s way of selling and distributing news suits some countries better than others:

For example, the service wouldn’t work in a country like Austria, Klöpping explained, because “all newspapers put all their content for free on their own websites, as opposed to other countries, where there is a mix of models…a country like the United States is very interesting for us, because publishers have content that either doesn’t go on the web at all, or is behind a paywall, or gets published online only after a certain time has passed,” he said. There is also a difference in how people use Blendle and what they expect from the platform. For example, in Germany, readers wanted a feature that would enable them to browse magazines by looking at the index page and navigating straight to their desired article, which hadn’t been requested by users of the platform in the Netherlands.

The pricing model also affects the type of journalism and the length of article that consumers want to read. Blendle doesn’t do breaking news, but focuses instead on magazine feature articles and longform journalism. Rick Edmonds summarizes Blendle’s USP for Poynter:

Articles typically cost between 10 and 90 cents; the publisher sets the price. A user registers and gets a $2.50 credit, then establishes a “wallet” for the account which can be replenished as it is drawn down. In addition, Blendle comes equipped with a three-part recommendation system — an algorithm tracking the user’s interests, a way to get references from friends and editors’ selection and description of pieces of particular interest. Another innovation is that Blendle offers your money back immediately if you don’t like the article picked. “We’ve taken away the fear that you spend 50 cents and then feel bad because the article was disappointing,” Klopping explained. In practice, fewer than one in 10 articles get refunded. Using Blendle, users can also to scan full contents of an issue of a magazine like The Economist and pick out which articles to buy. The articles appear without advertising. Blendle gives 70 percent of the payments to publishers and keeps the other 30.