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I tried Blendle, the ‘Netflix of journalism,’ for a week and went broke — but you might not

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In less than a decade, the way we consume the news has changed drastically. We are not expecting a news broadcast or a newspaper every day: you receive last minute alerts about the latest news wherever you are, whatever you are doing, thanks to smartphones.

But while we can easily access a variety of news at our fingertips, many publishers have adapted to the digital landscape by adding payment barriers, restricting content to non-subscribers so that they remain profitable. Maintaining subscriptions to several publications can be complicated, so Blendle wants to help. It is an à la carte service that offers access to popular news for a small fee, and has been dubbed the “Netflix of journalism.”

Blendle exists since 2014, but originally it was only available in the Netherlands and Germany. The company began to partner with leading US publishers. UU In 2016, and although technically still in a closed beta, we created an account through the iOS application.

The comparison with Netflix is ​​a misnomer: Blendle works more like iTunes, allowing you to select individual stories and pay a small fee, instead of paying a monthly subscription fee to access all of your content. The business model is good for casual news readers, but not so much if you’re addicted to the news.

Almost perfect design

Blendle has a wide selection of US publications. UU You will find most of the major newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. There is also a good list of magazines, including Mother Jones, The New Yorker, and industry-specific publications, such as Ad Age. However, there are some flagrant omissions, such as the Atlantic.

You will have to look elsewhere where you want to access regional and local magazines, or specialized publications. Blendle has mainly national publications with a large circulation. It makes sense not to bring regional or niche publications, since they are more likely to attract readers who are willing to subscribe.

The Blendle website and the mobile application are absolutely wonderful. It is easy to search for content through publications and there is a curated content tab on the main page. As you move, you see a title, an image and a small excerpt for each item. In addition, you can set up reading lists and alerts to quickly find the stories that interest you.

While we liked the design of the service, we ran into the problem of accidentally buying stories. All you need to do is touch a story, and you will be charged for it. The good thing is that Blendle works as an honor system, which provides refunds at the end of each story if you accidentally click, or if you did not like the story or if you informed yourself.

There is another problem that is a little more problematic: while the magazines were up to date, the newspapers were delayed one day. We are not sure if this is because the service is still in beta, but we have communicated with Blendle to get more information.

Small loads accumulate quickly

Blendle initially seemed too good to be true. Instead of paying for a full The New Yorker number, I could pay a few quarters for the stories I’ll read each week. The price depends on the publisher and the duration of the story, but, for the most part, almost all content is available for less than $ 0.50. Although it sounds like a win-win scenario, we did some numbers to see if the service really is worth it.

I wrote down the number of stories I read for a whole week, to see exactly how much I would spend on Blendle. The total ended up being 66 stories, which cost $ 33 in Blendle. Apparently, some cents here and there add up pretty fast. If I kept the same rhythm every week, my habit of Blendle would reach a little over $ 1,700 each year.

Sure, $ 1,700 sounds expensive, but how does it compare to subscribing directly to publications? If I subscribed to the seven publications that I used in Blendle, I would have saved a little more than $ 1,200 over the course of the year.

This does not mean that Blendle is a poor product. It just is not for me. If you are a casual reader, it is the perfect platform. Choose when you want to read an article and it will not be blocked behind a payment wall. If you are constantly reading these publications every week or so, it may make more sense to subscribe.

Blendle has the potential to be a win-win scenario for many. You can read a story for a few cents, and publishers actually make money with people who are not likely to pull the trigger in an annual subscription.

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