Pulse Adds Premium Subscriptions, Launches Innovative Partnership With WSJ

Yesterday, we heard that the New York Times was partnering with Flipboard to make its content available to its own paying customers on a new platform. Today, Flipboard competitor Pulse is launching its new Premium Sources feature in partnership with the Wall Street Journal to make some of the newpaper’s content available on its platform through in-app subscriptions. Pulse users will be able to subscribe to three WSJ channels for the time being: a tech and a politics section for $3.99/month each and an editorially curated feed called the Water Cooler for $0.99/month. For the Wall Street Journal, which has been using a paywall on its site since 1997, this is the first time it is unbundling its content and reselling it this way.

It’s important to note that this project is very different from the one the New York Times is working on with Flipboard. Flipboard is not selling in-app subscriptions to the New York Times, after all. Instead, New York Times subscribers now have another avenue for accessing the content they already subscribe to.

As Dmitry Shevelenko, who is responsible for Pulse’s monetization efforts, told me earlier today, “the most basic difference between our partnership with the Wall Street Journal and the Flipboard/NYT integration is growth vs. retention.” Pulse wants to help the WSJ (and other partners it plans bring on in the future) reach new audiences and expand their subscriber base.

A typical WSJ online subscription starts at $4.99/week, so users who don’t need access to the whole site can save quite a few dollars by using Pulse. The WSJ and Pulse will share the revenue from this venture (after Apple takes its 30% cut).

As Pulse co-founder Akshay Kothari notes, “there is significant opportunity to transform the consumption of premium content on mobile devices. Pulse users come back every day to discover exciting new content and they will love these new offerings from the Journal.”

Shevelenko also stressed that the company focused on making the content as “snackable” as possible, allowing users to spend a few minutes on reading an article on the bus or a few hours on the couch. For the time being, in-app subscriptions are only available on iOS. Once subscribed, though, users can also read these channels on their Android devices.

The updated Pulse for iOS app is available in the App Store now and the company promises to add more premium sources in the near future.