After weeks of rumors and speculation, Facebook has confirmed plans to test a news subscription program with select publishers.
“We are in early talks with several news publishers about how we might better support subscription business models on Facebook,” Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships, stated.
“As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, we are taking the time to work closely together with our partners and understand their needs,” according to Brown.
Along with several private meetings, Brown shared details at roundtable meetings with media executives in New York and Paris, last week. This would be important to create a consistent user experience, Facebook executives reason.
Offered through Facebook’s Instant Articles initiative, the tool is expected to also support freemium models, while publishers will have full control over locked and unlocked articles.
Additionally, publishers will have full control over their subscriber data, while the feature will enable authentication for existing subscribers. The payment process is still being determined, the source said.
Toward the end of the year, Facebook plans to launch a test with a small group of publishers. If the test is successful, the social giant will likely expand the effort in 2018.
While Facebook is often accused of disrupting the news business, analysts argue that the tech titan has a stake in their success.
“A strong publisher community is ultimately good for Facebook, because people are more likely to share quality content,” said Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at Pivotal Research. “Facebook is looking for synergistic opportunities with publishers.”