October 27, 2014 Last Updated 8:06 am

New York Times, Axel Springer invest $3.8 million in Dutch news ‘iTunes’ start-up Blendle

Company partners with newspapers and magazines to provide iTunes-like pay-per-article service, investment will boost expansion plans

The Dutch start-up Blendle today announced that The New York Times Co. and Axel Springer have bought a 23 percent stake in the company. The €3 million (about $3.8 million) investment will be used to help the online platform expand.

Blendle-iPadTimeline“We are truly honored that two of the world’s most influential publishers show so much trust in us”, said Blendle CEO, Alexander Klöpping. “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.”

Blendle is an online newsstand where readers can buy articles on an individual basis, with articles costing about €0.20 – and like fees for apps, the publisher keeps 70 percent of the revenue. The easiest comparison with with buying music from iTunes, one song at a time.

“If anything, the music business has taught us that consumers want a simple way to pay for content,” the company says on its website. “As a consumer, you only want to pay for content you actually consume, you want algorithms and social networks to help you filter, and you want everything in one place. While consumers changed, newspapers and magazines didn’t really adapt.”

But many music executives would be quick to point out that iTunes, and other online stores, were disruptive to the industry, leading to lower sales overall. The growth of iTunes could not have happen were it not for the fact that music labels were desperate for incremental dollars. Now, publishers appear just as desperate, and appear willing to fund even those services that might, long term, lead to subscribers buying their content through third party vendors rather that direct and on a recurring basis.

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