Google says its News Showcase will add free access to paywalled stories

Google News Showcase visitors will soon be able to read select paywalled articles at no extra charge.

That’s one of several announcements that the search giant made today about News Showcase, the program where it pays publishers (with $1 billion committed initially) to license their content for a new format in Google News. So far, Google News Showcase has launched in countries including Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, France, U.K. and Australia — in several cases, those are markets where it’s previously faced legal challenges and antitrust scrutiny.

Google says it will be paying participating publishers to provide “limited access to paywalled content for News Showcase users.” Those users will, however, still need to register directly with the publishers, which Google says will give them a way to build a relationship. (Facebook has also been experimenting with ways to present paywalled content, in its case by linking Facebook accounts to news subscriptions.)

The main News Showcase format is essentially story panel, and Google says it’s introducing a new panel allowing publishers to curate a daily selection of their most important stories. Those panels will be shown to users who follow those publishers.

Google News Showcase

Image Credits: Google

Google is also bringing the News Showcase to new devices and channels. It started out on Google News on Android and is now available on iOS as well, with plans to expand to the news.google.com website and Discover soon. And it says it has doubled the number of partners since the launch in October — the list of nearly 400 publishers participating in the program includes new names like Le Monde, Courrier International, L’Obs, Le Figaro, Libération and L’Express in France, plus Página12, La Gaceta and El Día in Argentina.

“As 2020 comes to a close, it is heartening to witness the progress of News Showcase and the enthusiasm from both publishers and readers around the world,” the company writes. “We will continue to engage and incorporate feedback as we build out features and grow the product to add to the future sustainability of our news partners.”

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