For news websites, such as the New Yorker and the Guardian, digital subscriptions are becoming more and more common. Not only does the subscription model mean publishers can earn money through online content, but it also helps to support the journalism – especially investigative journalism – that they carry out. Apple has now sorted a deal with Facebook to sell subscriptions directly via its iOS app – something which, surprisingly, has only just been introduced.
Facebook has been working with Android since October to provide a publisher subscription button once the reader hits a paywall. Instant Articles shows subscription details, and the reader, if they wish to read more articles, must pay for the privilege. For many laptop and desktop users, the paywall/subscription sight is common. But for Facebook, they’ve been working with Android because they couldn’t work out a deal to have the same feature in the Facebook iOS app.
Originally, Apple demanded a standard 30% cut of the revenue brought in via subscriptions made on the Facebook iOS app. Meanwhile, Facebook wanted all of the profits to go straight to the publishers. Now, however, a deal between Facebook and Apple has been made, although the cut – if any – Apple takes from Facebook iOS subscription button is currently not known.
Campbell Brown, a Facebook executive, announced the news at yesterday’s Code Media event. He also explicitly stated that the new subscription button will launch on iOS devices on March 1st. That means if you’re an iPad or iPhone user, expect to see the subscription message on your devices next month.
The subscription message will ultimately be seen earlier, too. Facebook users can currently read up to 10 articles for free without a paid subscription. However, come March 1st, this too will change. The number of free articles is being reduced by half – from 10 down to 5.