The New York Times Company and German-based publisher Axel Springer SE agreed to invest $3.8 million in a Dutch journalism startup company.
Blendle, an online platform that allows it’s readers to search and read content on a per-article basis for mere pennies, launched only six months ago. Although the company is currently only operating in the Netherlands, the multimillion dollar investment on behalf of The Times and Axel Springer would allow the company to expand to other countries in the near future.
Users can set up search options for subjects and journalists they are interested in following. Once a new article is published the reader receives an email notification. More than 130,000 users have signed up for the trial period of the app in the Netherlands, 20% of whom have added funds to their accounts beyond the free trial period.
“With Blendle, the Dutch can read all quality journalism in the country, and see instantly what’s popular right now and what friends have shared,” it read on the company’s website. “And the best thing: they only pay for the articles they like.”
Blendle has already secured contracts with a number of top newspapers and magazine publishers in the Netherlands and Belgium. Publishers keep 70% of the revenue collected from articles that run on average about 25 cents each for readers.
The pilot program described as the “iTunes for journalism” is mutually beneficial for the startup company and the more established Times and Axel Springer, although those publications will not receive any preferential treatment, according to The Wall Street Journal. By backing Blendle, The New York Times Company and Axel Springer hope to spread their reach to other countries.
Alexander Klöpping, Blendle’s co-founder, said the investment is key to further expand into Europe. For their investment, The New York Times and Axel Springer will jointly received a 23% stake in Blendle, according to an announcement late Sunday, which gives the startup a valuation of around 13 million euros, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Axel Springer has been making strides over the past few months to expand their presence in the United States. Earlier this month, the publisher paid $20 million to increase their stake in the online magazine Ozy, and in September it collaborated with Politico.com to start a European version of the Washington, D.C.-based news outlet.
“As a publisher we want to convince users to pay for great journalism; also in the digital age,” said Axel Springer Chief Executive Mathias Döpfner to The Wall Street Journal. “Blendle has the potential to attract young, Internet savvy readers.”