Twitter will end ad-free news articles as part of its Twitter Blue subscription renewal

It’s now public knowledge that one of the first things Elon Musk focused on after taking over Twitter was updating the Twitter Blue program. While much attention has been given to a potential verification feature to be included in the paid program, the company is also removing some of the existing features such as partnerships with publishers, according to an email obtained from one of the partners.

According to 9to5Mac, which was one of the partners in the program, the company sent an email to all publishers on October 31 notifying them that the partnership with Twitter Blue was ending. The program allows paid users to view ad-free articles in participating publications, and the social network will pay publishers an equivalent amount of ad revenue earned from a single view. It had more than 350 publishers, including The Washington Post, LA Times, Reuters and The Atlantic.

“In the coming weeks, we will be rolling out an update to Twitter Blue. In the course of this work, we have made the decision to stop providing ad-free articles, effective the end of business today, October 31, 2022. This difficult decision will allow us to focus our resources on adding additional value to our members. Expect to hear more from us soon,” the email said.

“Starting tomorrow, we will stop showing the ‘Twitter Blue Publisher’ label on all tweets containing your articles. We will no longer send a Twitter Blue token when people on Twitter access articles from your properties. This will prevent the ad-free experience from loading on your site.”

Currently, some users may still see tags accompanying this article, but Twitter will gradually stop showing them. In the meantime, publishers were informed that they could remove any Twitter Blue code from their website and were told that they would only have access to the Twitter Blue Publisher portal until the end of November. All payouts will continue on their normal schedule until the program, which the email describes as a “test,” is closed.

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Twitter did not immediately comment on the development.

Shutting down the feature is not only abrupt, but also wastes Twitter’s investment in an ad-free reading experience. The company acquired news reader service Scroll in May 2021, in order to make it part of its own subscription offer. It later closed Rewind to the fall of last year as him moved the feature set of the service to Twitter Blue.

The service itself may not have been profitable, as it would have diverted some of the subscription revenue to support the publishers with whom readers engaged. This can lower Twitter’s bottom line for a subscription that isn’t doing very well on its own. According to new data from app intelligence provider Sensor Tower, Twitter’s app only had one generated $6.4 million in consumer spending to date, with Blue being the ultimate in-app purchase. That’s not much considering the subscription has been available since last year and Twitter has around 238 million monetizable daily active users.

Twitter Blue is currently available in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In addition to ad-free news, it offers features like a button for edit tweets within 30 minutesbookmarks folder, custom icons and navigation, and early access to experimental features.

Reports speculated that Musk might price the new Twitter Blue at $20 per month, but in response to writer Stephen King, he offered $8 per month. Clearly, there is still no decision on pricing.

According to CNBCthe CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has set very aggressive deadlines for updating Twitter Blue, with some employees having to work 12-hour shifts.

Additional reporting: Sarah Perez

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