Facebook is Now Testing Subscriptions

Facebook is now testing paywalls and subscriptions for Instant Articles

Facebook recently introduced a tool that helps publishers using Apple News also publish content using Instant Articles and ease the workload, but the paywall limitation will remain a sticking point for now.

Facebook on Thursday announced it's testing a news subscription tool created to help publishers make some coin off their content. The subscriptions will then include access to the publisher's full website, and existing subscribers can authenticate within Instant Articles where they can get full access without having to pay twice for the same service. The second is a freemium model where the publishers choose which articles to lock. Recode on Thursday reported that Apple wanted its usual 30 percent cut of subscription revenue generated through the tool, but Facebook didn't agree to those terms since it wants the publishers to keep all the money.

Redirecting users away from Facebook to complete a transaction is a huge win for publishers. But, not everyone is happy about the business arrangement. In short, Apple demands a cut, and Facebook arranged the program to funnel all proceeds to publishers becasue it thinks the revenue should qualify as coming from the mobile web not in-app.

For this reason the feature isn't launching yet on Apple - only Android, which doesn't have any restrictions on how subscriptions can be sold.

The test will initially roll out on Android devices, but the trio said Facebook is hoping to expand it in the near future.

The social network giant said it will test "premium news models" for organizations that deliver their content on Facebook, to enable the publishers to have more control over pricing, subscriber relationships and revenue.

Included in the test will be Germany's Bild and Spiegel, France's Le Parisien, Italy's La Republicca, the Telegraph and the Economist of Britain and the US-based Boston Globe, Washington Post, and news groups Hearst and Tronc, which includes the Baltimore Sun, Los Angeles Times, and San Diego Union-Tribune. "It may also help soothe relations with some publishers, which often see their articles widely shared among Facebook's more than 2 billion monthly users but have found it hard to translate Facebook readers into paying subscribers".

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