Facebook on Thursday said it will start testing news subscription models in its Instant Articles feature with a small group of publishers across the United States and Europe.
The idea is to prompt readers who have not yet subscribed to a publication to do so when they hit the paywall. If the reader subscribes, the transaction will take place on the publisher’s website and the publisher will keep the revenue, Facebook said.
The move comes after big publishers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal began to move away from Instant Articles earlier in 2017, The Verge reported. The newspapers felt that the format did not help them gain an audience on Facebook and was leading to losses.
On Thursday, Facebook said it will start with a few publishers and expand later on. It will first test the model on Android devices and compare two different models of the feature – the first model will allow 10 free articles before the reader has to subscribe, and the second is a “freemium” version that will allow publishers to decide which articles are free.
For this subscription feature, Facebook has tied up with Bild, The Boston Globe, The Economist, Hearst (The Houston Chronicle and The San Francisco Chronicle), La Repubblica, Le Parisien, Spiegel, The Telegraph, Tronc (The Baltimore Sun, The Los Angeles Times, and The San Diego Union-Tribune), and The Washington Post.