Reading Facebook's Instant Articles is currently free regardless of the number of articles you view, but that could soon change as the social media giant is discussing a subscription-based news service with publishers. Campbell Brown, Facebook's chief of news partnerships, said the company aims to use its social media platform to figure out ways of supporting the subscription business models of several news publishers. The new feature will include a paywall that would require users of Facebook Instant Articles to pay a monthly digital subscription fee to a news organization after reading a threshold of content if they want to continue reading more articles from that site.
According to recent reports, the news service will allow media outlets to bring users of Instant Articles to their homepage through a paywall. Readers will then be asked to sign up for a digital subscription after they have gone through a set volume of free content provided by the publishers. Otherwise, the publishers would limit their content consumption for the rest of the month. It is not immediately clear, though, whether or not Facebook would get a portion of the revenue generated from the digital subscriptions, though that seems like a probable scenario. Details on the payment process itself also remain unclear as of this writing. Facebook is reportedly set to begin testing the new service with a number of publishers this October.
Launched in May 2015, Instant Articles allow publishers to select articles that Facebook users can read from within the mobile app with the same formatting as the one found on the original website, but with faster loading speeds. In April last year, Facebook finally expanded the Instant Articles tool to all publishers in a bid to keep users from leaving the app if they want to view third-party content. Whether or not Facebook's news service for publishers proves effective in gaining more subscribers remains to be seen. The news service is not the only feature Facebook has in store for publishers. In February last year, the social media giant also introduced a tool designed to help publishers increase user engagement.