The “Netflix of News” and the death of the publishing brand

I loved the concept when I first heard about it, and love that it seems to be working. Proof of concept done – now it’s time to take that concept and expand. Preferably globally.

In short, it’s a cunning system that allows you to pay for individual articles from publications, thus avoiding the constant fustration of not being able to read that great piece from the likes of the FT, Times or Economist because it’s hiding behind a paywall.

If this sort of thing takes off, it could be a whole new business-model – making paywalls more viable, while allowing monetisable ways around them.

But there’s also an interesting quote from Blendle’s founder:

“People want to read articles or want to follow specific journalists but aren’t particularly interested in the newspaper that it comes from anymore.”

This is especially true in the age of social, where URL-shorteners are so endemic that half the time you have no idea which site you’ll end up on.

I’ve got used to reading content that’s been de-branded via a hefty RSS addiction. That’s been replaced in recent years with an addiction to aggregation apps like Zite, Flipboard and Feedly, where what matters is the content itself, not the packaging, or where it’s from.

If the content is good enough, it will stand on its own – it won’t need to hide behind the brand. In fact, the brand can sometimes be a disadvantage, because it leads to preconceptions that can skew the reader’s opinion before they’ve even started to read a piece. There are some publications I avoid simply because I assume that they have nothing to offer me, for reasons of politics, prejudices, or whatever – and I know I’m far from being alone in this.

Remove the publication’s branding and present me with their content as is, would my preconceptions be different? Of course. And if I like the content, this could win them a new long-term reader.