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Stories Vs. Subs: Facebook Explores Article Paywall

Stories Vs. Subs: Facebook NASDAQ: FB Explores Article Paywall

Between the unchecked proliferation of fake news, paywall loopholes and the seizure of coveted digital ad spending, the relationship between online platforms and news organizations has been hostile of late.

But Facebook Inc FB 0.17% is considering ways to make amends. After having hired Campbell Brown, a former CNN primetime host and NBC News correspondent, in January as its head of news partnerships, the company has explored various opportunities to appease media content providers.

“We are in early talks with several news publishers about how we might better support subscription business models on Facebook,” Brown said Tuesday at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit. “As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, we are taking the time to work closely together with our partners and understand their needs.”

What’s On The Table?

The latest idea is a metered paywall for its Instant Articles feature, according to the New York Times Co NYT 1.13%, a potential beneficiary of the tool.

Instant Articles allows mobile readers to consume content directly on Facebook rather than being redirected through links to agency websites. While access to publisher-posted articles is currently unlimited, the proposed model would allow readers to view a limited number of free stories per month before requiring a subscription.

Facebook will pilot the program with a group of publishers in October.

The company has also explored in-app subscription opportunities, which media firms have demanded since Instant Articles launched in May 2015. Facebook expects to roll out the feature by the end of the year, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is unclear how the company will to process payments or whether it intends to take a cut.

Regardless, the effort to improve content monetization is critical for media firms increasingly reliant on digital subscriptions and online ad revenue.

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