Google will finally start paying some publishers for news content

Google’s parent Alphabet will reportedly start compensating some of the biggest publishers for carrying their curated content in its news-focused products, such as Google News.

Google wrote in a blog post today that it has set aside more than $1 billion to cover its Digital Growth Program’s first three years. Publishers will be compensated for providing blurbs for Google News. This will include giving readers free access to certain paywalled articles.

As part of the initiative, the company released a new app, called Google News Showcase, in Brazil and Germany. With News Showcase, the company’s partner publishers can manage branded story panels and customize them with timelines, bullets and related news articles (video, audio and daily briefings will come next).

This financial commitment—our biggest to date—will pay publishers to create and curate high-quality content for a different kind of online news experience. Google News Showcase is a new product that will benefit both publishers and readers: It features the editorial curation of award-winning newsrooms to give readers more insight on the stories that matter, and in the process, helps publishers develop deeper relationships with their audiences.

There panels will appear in Google News on Android before coming to Google News on iOS “soon” and to Google Discover and Search “in the future.” Basically, publishers can take advantage of story panels to to package the stories the way they see fit.

According to the CEO of Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, they’ve signed partnerships with nearly 200 publications across Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the UK and Australia such as Der Spiegel, Stern, Die Zeit, Folha de S.Paulo, Band and Infobae. “Regionally and locally significant publications” are also part of the program. News Showcase will expand to other countries including India, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Bloomberg commented:

Brad Bender, a Google vice president, said on a call with journalists the funding wouldn’t be able to cover all news organizations also because ‘not all publishers produce the volume and type of content necessary for this product.’ Google is deciding who to partner with on a market-by-market basis, with a focus on newspapers or sources with established audiences, as well as significant local and regional news outlets, he said. Licensing fees will be structured as a flat fee over a period of time and will be negotiated depending on the amount of content the publisher provides, Google said.

Apple’s never had to deal with complaints with publishers because its News product is built on a fair business model that accepts both publishers who give away shorter stories for free to gain exposure and those who provide access to paywalled articles as part of the subscription.