Google has strenuously denied reports that it has been angling to soften up publishers into accepting some form of revenue split, in exchange for using its muscle to attract potential new subscribers, following a spate of weekend reports.
The Financial Times had suggested that several media organisations had been approached by the internet firm with the offer of a subscriptions lifeline in exchange for a share of the spoils but Google itself has described the speculation as ‘totally wrong’.
Google has been rumoured to be exploring such models behind the scenes as it seeks to leverage its well-honed data algorithms for targeting online ads toward assisting media firms in customizing their own subscription offers – but any such move is still a long way off.
Responding to the reports Google spokeswoman Maggie Shiels told CNET: "We have not reached any conclusions on the revenue side. We haven't reached any conclusions [regarding] subscriptions and need to speak to publishers."
Speaking to the Financial Times Google’s news boss Richard Gingras said that any such split would be weighted more favourably toward publishers than the current advertising split, which hands 70% of revenues to websites, although no figure has yet been arrived upon.
Publishers are likely to leap upon any support they can get in the subscriptions arena as they struggle to offset a massive contraction in print subscribers with digital alternatives, although this may be through gritted teeth having thus far viewed Google as part of the problem rather than the solution by distributing their content for free.
Earlier this summer Time Inc revealed that it would become the latest publisher to slash print and sales staff as it migrates away from print to restructure around video.