Facebook is Now Testing Subscriptions

Facebook announced a few months ago a plan to start testing subscriptions and paywalls for their Instant Articles. Now, Facebook has begun testing subscription support for instant articles.

Facebook will begin with two different paywall options. The first choice is a model where everyone gets to read ten free stories per month before having to subscribe. The second model is where publishers choose which articles to lock.

When a user who is not a subscriber hits a paywall, they will be asked to subscribe for full access to the publisher’s content.

Facebook Subscriptions
Image Credit: Facebook

If you want to purchase a subscription, Facebook will take you to the publisher’s website to complete the transaction, which means a business will keep 100% of the revenue and the transaction data. 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 decision for publishers to keep 100% of their subscription earnings is a big deal for businesses. But, not everyone is happy about the business arrangement. According to Recode, Apple says it violates the company’s rules about subscriptions sold inside apps. Currently, Apple gets 30% of all subscriptions sold inside 3rd-party iOS apps, so Facebook’s current signup method eliminate them of this revenue. As a result, this is only available on Android and not Apple. In fact, there is no timeline for when a deal will be made with Apple.

Facebook says many publishers saw subscriptions as an essential priority and requested the ability to control the paywall and the earning generated from the subscription system. So far, ten participating publishers include The Boston Globe, The Economist, Heart, La Republic, Le Parisien, Spiegel, The Telegraph, bronc, and The Washington Post.