Facebook bends to publishers, letting them keep 100% of subscription revenue and data (for now)

With Facebook controlling heaps of the news industry’s ad revenue, media organizations have felt more beholden than ever to the whims of the social network. Recently, legacy news publishers have come together to try and collectively bargain with Facebook and Google for more equitable publisher solutions. Today, it sounds as if Facebook seems to have given in to one of those demands.

Facebook launched a journalism project in January, and has alluded to its plan to introduce a way for publishers to sell subscriptions, but little information has been given about the program. Today, Recode writes that the current plan would give the media companies 100% of revenue from subscription sign-ups through its Instant Articles program, as well as allow them to not share data with Facebook. Here’s how it would work

Industry sources say that instead of operating a subscription service itself, Facebook plans on creating a paywall it would implement after non-subscribers view 10 articles a month from a particular publisher.

When users hit the 10-article limit, Facebook plans on sending users to that publisher’s site to sign up for a subscription.

“Quality journalism costs money to produce, and we want to make sure it can thrive on Facebook,” Facebook’s news partnerships leader, Campbell Brown, said in a statement that appeared to confirm the idea, which is “part of our test to allow publishers in Instant Articles to implement a paywall.” Apple, meanwhile, sells subscriptions through the App Store and the Apple News app, but it takes up to 30% of profits.

This is a concession Facebook is willing to make as it listens to the grumblings of a beleaguered media industry—not to mention the looming possibility of more stringent government regulation of the tech behemoths. A few weeks ago, my I wrote about why newspapers are trying to collectively bargain with Facebook and Google, and what they’re hoping to get

[Photo: Flickr user Jon SCGW