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Twitter announces plan to share subscriber revenue with news portals in the US

Twitter Blue offers a few upgrades to users of the social media platform and ad-free reading is just one of them.

Twitter’s premium offering ‘Twitter Blue’ is now available in the United States and New Zealand and includes ad-free articles from partner publications, the company announced in a blog post on November 9. Twitter will share a portion of its revenue from Twitter Blue with the publications, the announcement said.

“Our goal is to help each publishing partner make 50% more per person than they would’ve made from serving ads to that person,” Twitter said in the announcement. Twitter Blue was first rolled out in Australia and Canada in June this year.

In the past few years, various countries including France, Australia, and Spain have demanded that platforms like Google and Facebook share their revenues with publishers. With Twitter Blue, Twitter is seemingly trying to find a middle-path in that negotiation, pocketing the revenue from ads while voluntarily sharing revenue from paid subscriptions.

What is Twitter Blue?

Twitter’s first-ever paid subscription-offering, Twitter Blue offers a few upgrades to users of the social media platform:

  • Ad-free reading: Twitter Blue subscribers in the US will be able to read ad-free articles from partner publications, including Reuters and The Washington Post among others.
  • Top articles: Another premium feature of Twitter Blue is ‘Top Articles’, a list of the most-shared articles in your network.
  • Undo Tweet: While even subscribers cannot edit tweets, they can ‘Undo Tweet’ before it is published. This feature is similar to the Undo Send feature in Gmail.
  • Bookmark Folders: Twitter Blue subscribers can segregate bookmarked tweets in folders and customise the look and feel of their folders.

While Twitter has announced revenue-sharing plans with select publications in the US, it is unclear if such plans will be launched in the other countries where Twitter Blue is live, including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. MediaNama has reached out to Twitter for clarification, and will update the report once a response is received.

Which countries have asked platforms to share revenue with publishers?

In the past few years, several countries have targeted Google News and Facebook for earning from content created by publishers:

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  • Australia: The Australian News Media Bargaining Code was passed in March this year, forcing Google and Facebook to enter an arbitration deal with news publishers to decide a price for their news stories.
  • Spain: In 2014, Spain had passed a similar law that led to Google no longer offering Google News in the country. A 2017 study found that this led to a 20% drop in readership of news websites. Last week, Google News returned to the country after Spain’s mandatory revenue-sharing requirement was scrapped, The Verge reported.
  • France: The French competition authority ruled in April 2020 that Google would have to negotiate with news publishers to remunerate them for article snippets the search giant shows in search results.

Publishers vs Platforms: Developments in India

The passing of Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code prompted Indian stakeholders to react, with publishers demanding increased revenue and legislators calling for similar legislation:

  • INS demands 85% of ad revenue: In a letter addressed to Google India country manager Sanjay Gupta, the Indian Newspapers Society asked the company to increase publisher share of advertising revenue to 85%. The current share of revenue given to publishers is opaque, an INS member told the Indian Express:

    The system is opaque, there is little information to go on. As publishers, we just get a cheque at the end of the month. We don’t know what percentage, we don’t know the methodology, we don’t know the reason we get ‘x’ amount. Basically it’s our content, and we should be getting a much bigger share. – INS member

  • BJP MP demands regulation: In March, BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi urged the Indian government to enact similar legislation:

    [The government] should enact a law on the pattern of Australian Code, so that we could compel Google to share its revenue with traditional media. India should take a lead in making Google and Facebook pay a fair share of earnings they make from domestically-produced news content on the Internet. — BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi

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Written By

Figuring out subscriptions and growth at MediaNama. Email: nishant@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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