Facebook in talks with publishers on supporting subscription models

Pablo Tucker
July 20, 2017

Facebook plans to start a paywall that requires readers to become subscribers of the platform after accessing minimum of 10 articles. The New York Times and the Washington Post have seen record subscription numbers in the wake of the election. The initial pitch was that this would make it easier for Facebook users to consume faster-loading news stories, and thus get publishers access to much bigger audiences.

The plans were unveiled by Campbell Brown, Facebook's head of news partnerships who was speaking at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit in NY on Tuesday, The Street reported.

Brown, naturally, didn't get into many specifics about Facebook subscriptions, but she did say that it will offer both premium and metered plans.

At the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, an industry conference, in New York City on July 18, Brown said, "One of the things we heard in our initial meetings from many newspapers and digital publishers is that 'we want a subscription product - we want to be able to see a paywall in Facebook and that is something we're doing now". That source also said Facebook has met with several publishers to discuss the proposed subscription service and to understand the publishers' needs, with the company planning to give publishers full control over which articles are locked behind the paywall. The move is to let the people subscribe to publications through Facebook's "Instant Articles" feature and support major publications with metered paywalls and "freemium" models. Facebook is also testing mid-roll video ads with a handful of publishers that it plans to eventually roll out to everyone. It is very possible that people will not want to pay for news on Facebook, and will search only for media companies that do not setup the paywall. "We are launching a subscription product". That would allow for the authentication of the publishers' existing subscribers.

After weeks of rumors and speculation, Facebook has confirmed plans to test a news subscription program with select publishers.

It is unclear, however, how payments will be handled and if Facebook would take a cut of subscription sales.

Other reports by iNewsToday