Blendle, a new pay-per-article app, is aiming to be the Netflix for journalism.
A beta version of the new media platform, which curates long-form newspaper and magazine articles, was launched in the US last week with 10,000 beta users.
The mission of Blendle is "to make journalism less reliant on ads," said Blendle founder Alexander Klöpping in a post on Medium last week introducing the app.
Unlike Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News, which runs advertising alongside its articles, Blendle offers users an ad-free experience. Blendle charges between 19 and 39 cents for newspaper articles and between 9 and 49 cents for magazine pieces, Klöpping told Forbes, and refunds users money if they don’t like the articles they paid for. Media owners chose the content placed on Blendle and keep 70% of the revenue, according to Fortune.
The New York Times and German media company Axel Springer, which owns multiple websites such as Business Insider, have invested in the startup. And legacy publications like The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time Inc. and The Financial Times have signed on as media partners.
Blendle editors curate the content and select the most impactful articles. Blendle, said Klöpping, is focused on investigative pieces, not news. Those long-form articles are the types of articles Klöpping believes Blendle’s users — half of which are under 35 — are most interested in reading.
The traditional ad-based revenue model needs to change and quality journalism sites are tired of placing native advertisements against objective articles, said Klöpping in his Medium post. "More and more publishers realize they can’t or don’t want to build their businesses on that model. Income is declining," he wrote. "The competition of Facebook and Google is very strong, 41% of the younger people are already using ad-blocking plugins, more and more kids are browsing in incognito mode (leaving no cookies at all), and native advertising makes readers and journalists alike very uncomfortable."
Launched in the Netherlands in spring 2014 and last year in Germany, the app has 650,000 registered users. 20% of users have already paid for at least one article, according to Fortune.