Facebook is reportedly planning to let people subscribe to publications through its ‘Instant Articles’ feature and support major publications with metered paywalls and “freemium” models. According to a report on Monday, these options would seem to accommodate metered publications including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The Economist, which make a certain selection of articles free and put the rest behind a paywall.

“We are in early talks with several news publishers about how we might better support subscription business models on Facebook,” the report quoted as saying. The company plans to test the subscription tools with a small group of publishers at the end of the year and later expand them to others in 2018.

Facebook will also give access to publications to all subscriber data through which they can understand their audience better. “The idea is to have a diverse mix in the test group, representing US and international and big and small titles,” the report noted.

The company has had one-on-one briefings with multiple media houses including The New York Times, Hearst and The Economist and plans to have group meetings with more media executives this week. “We’ve been briefed and are continuing to evaluate if we’re going to participate. So far, we don’t see any great upside,” the report quoted. 

It is however unclear as to how payments will be handled and if the company will take a cut of subscription sales. “Payments are complicated because when they go through smartphones’ app stores, the stores take a 30 per cent cut,” the report added. But it is believed that Facebook may let publishers handle it through the mobile web and let them have more control over pricing and data. 

First Published | 11 July 2017 12:49 PM
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