Less than half a year ago two 27-year-old former Dutch journalists, Marten Blankesteijn and Alexander Klöpping, introduced a new startup, called Blendle, with a vision to establish an “iTunes for newspapers and magazines”. In The Netherlands the startup succeeded to attract all the major news publishers, but now the next big step is in front of them: with a funding of €3 million from The New York Times Company and German publishing house Axel Springer the Blendle founders plan to expand outside their (Dutch) borders.
“What happens if all major publishers in a country join forces, bringing all articles written in a single country together and ensuring they are readily available in a single app, and all payable from a single wallet? That’s Blendle.” With this words Alexander Klöpping, the co-founder of the new Dutch start-up, describes the new app which is supposed to affect the news publishing industry in the same way that iTunes has for the music industry.
“If anything, the music business has taught us that consumers want a simple way to pay for content. As a consumer, you only want to pay for content you actually consume, you want algorithms and social to help you filter, and you want everything in one place. While consumers changed, newspapers and magazines didn’t adapt,” wrote Klöpping in one of his blog posts on Medium.
Using the app is simple – users can discover and read articles but only paying for the individual articles they read. On Blendle, an average price for an article is 20 cents. The pricing per article is set by the publishers and revenues are split 70:30 between the publisher and Blendle.
In less than six months Blendle has united all the major newspapers and magazines in The Netherlands where it currently has more than 130,000 users. As its founders claim, these users are very young for an app that focuses on quality journalism. “The 20 to 25 age group is the biggest group on our site. 60% of our users are between 20 and 35 years of age,” say the Blendle founders.
Although Blendle is currently available only in The Netherlands, it won’t be like this for long. The €3 million backing by The New York Times and Axel Springer will enable them to launch the app in other countries soon.
“We are truly honored that two of the world’s most influential publishers show so much trust in us,” says Klöpping , CEO of Blendle CEO, in a press statement. “Axel Springer has successfully transformed its business into a digital publishing house with a great portfolio of online offerings and start-ups that we believe we can learn a lot from. The New York Times’ online strategy serves as a worldwide example for other newspapers and magazines.”
Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE, believes that Blendle has the potential to attract young, internet savvy readers. “As a publisher we want to convince users to pay for great journalism; also in the digital age. I’m therefore delighted that a European startup is building a platform for paid access to quality journalism that is easy to use,” says Döpfner.
The companies agreed that the two founders, Marten Blankesteijn and Alexander Klöpping, will continue to fully control the company representing more than 75% of Blendle’s share capital. “The new investors will not have any insight in the Blendle sales numbers of other associated publishers and their affiliated newspapers and publications will not receive any preferential treatment and will contract with Blendle on an arm’s length basis,” also stated Blendle’s founders.
Photo: The Dutch team behind Blendle and its founders Marten Blankesteijn (right) and Alexander Klöpping (left). (Photo: Leonard Fäustle)