As TV news outlets continue wrestling with using social media to generate revenue, Facebook is reportedly developing a tool that could drive subscriptions to news organizations that publish on its Instant Articles platform.
According to the New York Times, discussions, which are in the early stages, are centered around Facebook instituting a metered paywall that would redirect readers to news operations’ subscription pages after reading a certain number of free articles. Facebook plans to test the product with a small number of publishers this fall and expand the initiative next year, according to the Times.
The move stems from media companies’ dissatisfaction with Instant Articles, the two-year-old platform that allows news organizations to publish directly on Facebook rather than on their own websites. Although a number of local TV news outlets distribute their content via Instant Articles, there have been concerns from the get-go about the effect making stories available for free on a platform they don’t own has on readership and revenue.