I tried Blendle, the ‘Netflix of journalism,’ for a week and went broke — but you might not

blendle news app hands on experience newsweek
Les Shu/Digital Trends

In less than a decade, the way we consume news has drastically changed. We’re not waiting for a nightly news broadcast or a daily paper — you get up-to-the-minute breaking news alerts wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, thanks to smartphones.

But while we can easily access a variety of news at our fingertips, many publishers have adapted to the digital landscape by adding paywalls, restricting content to non-subscribers to remain profitable. Maintaining subscriptions to various publications can be tricky, which is why Blendle wants to help. It’s an à la carte service that offers access to popular news stories for a small fee, and it has been dubbed the “Netflix of journalism.”

It’s an à la carte service that offers access to popular news stories for a small fee.

Blendle has been around since 2014, but it was originally only available in the Netherlands and Germany. The company began partnering with major U.S. publishers in 2016, and while it’s technically still in a closed beta, we set up an account through the iOS app.

The comparison to Netflix is a bit of a misnomer: Blendle works more like iTunes, allowing you to select individual stories and pay a small fee, as opposed to paying a monthly subscription fee to access all of its content. The business model is good for casual news readers, but not so much if you’re a news junkie.

Nearly perfect design

Blendle carries a diverse selection of U.S. publications. You’ll find most major newspapers including The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. There’s a good list of magazines as well, including Mother Jones, The New Yorker, as well as industry-specific publications like Ad AgeThere are a few glaring omissions, however, such as The Atlantic.

Download for iOS Download for Android

Les Shu/Digital Trends

You’ll have to look else where if you want access to regional and local magazines, or niche publications. Blendle mostly carries national publications with a large print run. It makes sense not to carry regional or niche publications, as they are more likely to attract readers who are willing to subscribe.

While magazines were up to date, newspapers were consistently a day behind.

Blendle’s website and the mobile app are absolutely gorgeous. It’s easy to search for content via publication, and there’s a curated content tab on the homepage. As you scroll through, you see a headline, image, and a small excerpt for each article. Additionally, you can set up reading lists and alerts to quickly find stories that interest you.

While we liked the service’s design, we did run into the problem of accidentally purchasing stories. All you need to do is tap on a story, and you’ll be charged for it. The good thing is Blendle works as an honor system, providing refunds at the end of each story if you clicked it accidentally, or if you didn’t like the story or reporting itself.

There’s another issue that’s a bit more problematic: While magazines were up to date, newspapers were consistently a day behind. We’re not sure if this is because the service is still in beta, but we’ve reached out to Blendle to learn more.

Small charges add up quickly

Blendle initially seemed too good to be true. Instead of paying for an entire issue of The New Yorker, I could just pay a few quarters for the stories I’ll actually read each week. Pricing depends on the publisher and length of story but, for the most part, almost all content is available for less than $.50. While it sounds like a win-win scenario, we crunched some numbers to see whether the service is really worth it.

blendle news app hands on experience made in italiy
Les Shu/Digital Trends

I noted down the number of stories I read for an entire week, to see exactly how much I would spend on Blendle. The total ended up being 66 stories, which costed $33 on Blendle. Apparently, a few cents here and there add up pretty quickly. If I kept up the same pace every week, my Blendle habit would come out to a little over $1,700 each year.

If I kept up the same pace every week, my Blendle habit would come out to a little over $1,700 each year.

Sure, $1,700 sounds expensive, but how does it compare to directly subscribing to the publications? If I subscribed to the seven publications I used on Blendle, I would have saved a little over $1,200 during the course of the year.

This doesn’t mean Blendle is a poor product. It’s just not meant for me. If you’re a casual reader, it’s the perfect platform. Choose when you want to read an article, and it won’t be blocked behind a paywall. If you find yourself consistently reading from these publications every week or so, it may make more sense to just subscribe to them.

Blendle has the potential to be a win-win scenario for many. You can read a story for a few cents, and publishers actually make money from people who aren’t likely to pull the trigger on an annual subscription.

Movies & TV

Oscar-winning FX master explains why ‘First Man’ is a giant leap for filmmaking

Paul Lambert, the Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor on First Man, reveals the innovative techniques that blended old footage with modern movie magic to make the Apollo 11 mission to the moon resonate with audiences 50 years later.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Mobile

Keep up-to-date with the best news apps on iPhone and Android

Are the days of traditional newspapers and broadcast news dwindling? With apps this good, maybe. Catch up on the latest headlines on any platform with the best news apps on iOS and Android.
Mobile

Want more power, but faster? This new charging tech claims it can deliver

Chunky power bricks and slow charging could be a thing of the past with GaNFast technology from Navitas Semiconductors. By using an alternative to silicon, GaNFast reduces power consumption and boosts output.
Wearables

Swatch and Mastercard team up for on-the-wrist, on-the-go mobile payments

Swatch has announced its Swatchpay technology is now available in Switzerland, enabling mobile payments from your Swatch watch. It works in a similar way to Apple Pay and Google Pay. Here's everything about it.
Mobile

Do these Geekbench results accurately represent the Moto G7?

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.
Mobile

Sony is showing something off at MWC -- will it be the Xperia XZ4?

Sony may have released the Xperia XZ3 in the past few months, but already it's preparing to release a follow-up, the Xperia XZ4. We're learning plenty about the phone now some details have started to leak out, and it's getting exciting.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best true wireless earbuds around.
Mobile

Is this the first image of a Galaxy S10 being used in real life?

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.
Wearables

Omron HeartGuide brings blood pressure monitoring to your wrist

High blood pressure leads to heart attacks, strokes, and many other health problems, so it's important to keep an eye on. Omron's HeartGuide is a fitness tracking watch that can also monitor your blood pressure from your wrist.
Business

Google is buying mysterious smartwatch tech from The Fossil Group for $40 million

Google is about to step up its smartwatch game. The company has agreed to buy an unnamed smartwatch technology from The Fossil Group for a hefty $40 million. Considering the acquisition, it's clear Google is serious about smartwatches.
Mobile

Learn how to play YouTube in the background on iOS and Android

We show you how to play YouTube in the background with apps such as Opera, Chrome, and Firefox -- along with the premium offerings like YouTube Premium -- whether you have an Android or iOS device.
Mobile

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.