Game changers #7, The Netflix of news? Meet Newsadoo, the platform seeking to reinvent online journalism

  • August 04, 2018
Newsadoo was born in Austria and will be fully operative in September.

by Martin Mazur

The way we consume news has drastically changed in the last 10 years. In the model of free online contents that users got used to, news were merely seen as a free commodity: everybody could have access to them, no matter the quality. And with smartphones, we get the up-to-the-minute breaking news alert without even bothering.

Social media was a vital tool to increasing websites traffic, but also became a burden: hits diminished as algorithms changed and the news became part of the social media ecosystem, without the need of a click. The behaviour of users also changed in the last decade, accessing to news permanently, but rarely thoroughly. The level of attention rarely exceeds the 30-second rule.

Crisis and paywalls
The situation led to a dead end for many media outlets, as income coming from advertisers was never enough to sustain the reigning plan.This is when paywalls showed up. Some media outlets used the 20, 10 or 5 articles for free in a month, others directly let you read the first paragraphs before asking you to become a subscriber to keep reading. Each paywall works differently and the technology is rarely shared, meaning that each paywall is developed from scratch for each media outlet.

But are paywalls the ultimate solution? Are users willing to pay to read news and content? In times of Spotify and Netflix, it is normal to think that there will be a similar platform for journalism, allowing users to access unlimited contents in exchange for a monthly fee. Rather than becoming an online subscriber in each of the media outlets that users like, this platform would allow them to be inside the circuit without restrictions.

The Netflix of journalism
The transition to the online world suddenly brought good news for newspapers and magazines: no more delays in printing, no more costs in distribution and no more fees to newsstands. Except, new players showed up, asking for percentages. Like iTunes and Google Play, taking a 30 percent of their income. And others, like Zinio or Magzter, adding a further 20-30 percent to offer the publications in their platforms. “Once publishers were competitors, now they are partners,” claims Newsadoo, a start-up from Austria that is already offering some top European publications in their menu.

Newsadoo will offer two packages to read up to 15 top European publications without limits.

“You get everything you want in just one system. Eliminate paywalls and other annoying barriers,” is Newsadoo’s byline. Currently offering a beta subscription plan, they will launch two packages in September: Classic (€4,99 a month, 10 publications, with advertising) and Premium (€8,99 a month, 15 publications, without advertising).

“We use state-of-the-art technologies to disrupt 'news science' and thus create a functioning, digital business model for the many renowned European publishers. Rather than being completely dependent on Internet giants, we are building a collaborative ecosystem for the European media that, in the interests of all, can join forces to provide powerful and well-functioning digital products,” claims David Böhm, CEO of Newsadoo.

Spotify or iTunes?
The Netflix-Spotify model is not the only one. Blendle, a start-up from the Netherlands, is trying a different system, similar to iTunes, already offering a wide range of U.S. publications, including The New York Times, New Yorker, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. With a pay-as-you-read system, you are charged some cents (usually between a quarter and 50c) for reading a story. If you are an occasional reader, this might also be a good solution.

To share or not to share
The first resistance for these models, however, often comes from publications: are they willing to share their content and lose a percentage of their income to a third-player? And how many third-players are knocking on their doors every week, offering the same deal?

The publication market is shrinking. Newsadoo believes this is a huge opportunity for publications to work together.

Think about television. Would you, as a viewer, be interested in signing up for 72 different channels, paying to them directly, getting a username and a password for each of them, and learning how to deal with their own different platforms? Or would you rather just pay for a package that include the 72 channels and that makes your life easier?

We don’t know how Netflix and Spotify became the leaders in their segments, we just know they are now. If there comes a Netflix of news or a Spotify of news, part of our problems would be solved for a very little monthly fee.


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