New York Times invests in Dutch “iTunes for news” company

Blendle, a Dutch startup that sells access to news and other content from a variety of European media outlets on a per-article basis, says it has closed a Series A financing round of $3.8 million that was led by the New York Times Co. and German media giant Axel Springer. The company says it plans to use the money to expand to other European countries over the next several years.

The startup was founded in 2013 by two 27-year-old former journalists, Alexander Klöpping and Marten Blankesteijn, and launched its app and web service in the Netherlands earlier this year.

Blendle Economist

Blendle has agreements with almost every newspaper and magazine in the Netherlands (as well as some English brands such as The Economist) to provide access to their articles, which cost an average of 20 cents — pricing on each piece is set by the publisher, and revenue is split 70-30, with the publisher keeping the larger share. Blendle says it has more than 130,000 registered users.

There have been a number of attempts to build an “iTunes for news” over the years by bundling access to different publications — including a high-profile venture called Ongo that included some leading American media outlets — but none have succeeded so far. It remains to be seen whether Blendle can extend its success in the Netherlands to markets where language is not a natural barrier to competition.

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