One Paywall To Rule Them All: Blendle, A Dutch "iTunes For Journalism" Startup, Receives Funding

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Newspapers and magazines worldwide are adopting paywalls, and they are here to stay. A necessary evil for those in the publishing business, one unified paywall for all of a country's major titles might make the situation more tolerable for readers and media outlets alike. A startup in Netherlands has started it with Blendle, a self-proclaimed "iTunes for journalism" platform where users can read articles from the country's variety of major dailies and magazines, see what's trending among curators and friends, follow certain topics or journos, and only pay for articles that they want to read, with the option of getting a refund. Upon registering, new users can access €2.50 worth of material for free with articles costing €0.20 on average, and publishers keeping 70% of revenue. The product of two former journalists, co-founders Alexander Klöpping and Marten Blankesteijn wanted to offer the option of consuming and paying for a news article to be as easy as downloading an all-access app. In an industry where print readership, sales and ad income is on the decline, there is hope.

In a piece released on Medium in October, Klöpping wrote that one month after its launch in April, Blendle had "more than 60,000 registered users" (50% of those users are under the age of 35) with "20% already converted to paying users." At least in Netherlands, it looks like millennials do want to read and they're willing to pay for it, too. The Economist is the first English language title to join Blendle and start selling material in a pay-per-view model. New York Times Co. and German publisher Axel Springer have invested €3 million and will jointly receive a 23% stake in Blendle, giving the startup a valuation of around €13 million (WSJ). According to The Guardian, Klo?pping has plans to expand in another European country, and optimistically needs to onboard "at least 60% to 70%" of the country's print media outlets for proper market penetration.