Mozilla to Launch Premium Firefox Browser With Ad-Free News for $5 a Month

Screenshot: Mozilla

No one likes ads, and Firefox is banking on that hatred. On Friday, Mozilla announced a forthcoming premium version of its Firefox browser with ad-free news articles—and offer some other features—for $5 a month.

On its website, Mozilla writes the premium version will allow you to “support the sites you love, avoid the ads you hate.” As for how it plans to do that, Mozilla says it has partnered with some of the “world’s greatest publishers,” so that the $5 you pay each month is shared directly with select news sites. Basically, they make money, Mozilla makes money, and ads on those websites go bye bye—on both mobile and desktop.

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The “ad-free experience” appears to be the result of a previously announced partnership between Mozilla and Scroll, a service that offers ad-free news articles on sites like BuzzFeed and USA Today. (Disclosure: Gizmodo and its sister sites are Scroll partners.) Gizmodo asked for further clarification on the revenue-sharing breakdown and a full list of Mozilla’s publishing partners, but Mozilla declined to say more than it was not experimenting with the cost to access Firefox itself and that a free option would always remain available.

In addition to ad-free news-reading, Mozilla has promised subscribers some other perks. For starters, the premium Firefox will give you access to audio versions of articles, and can sync bookmarks across devices. Mozilla says you’ll also get “exclusive top recommended reads” and an app that “helps you find and finish great content.” And if you’re interrupted mid-article, the browser will let you automatically pick up articles where you left off, across devices. So if you start reading something at your desk, you could then switch off to the exact spot on your phone—or perhaps to audio if you’re driving home.

This is all part of a larger effort by Firefox to explore new, less ad-dependent ways of funding content on the internet. Back in February, Mozilla published a blog detailing the project. In it, it noted that product explorations would be open to a small group of browser users. It also named Scroll—which boasts many of the same features as Mozilla’s premium browser, including automatic pickups and audio versions of articles—as a partner. (Some of the wording on both the Mozilla and Scroll sites describing the features is also exactly the same.)

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Now seems like a good time for Mozilla to test out whether users will bite when it comes to a premium browser with fewer ads—especially since Google recently stuck its foot in its mouth on the ad-blocking front. In January, Google announced it was doing away with an API used by many third-party ad blockers and privacy extensions. Google then tried to wave away concerns that it was trying to diminish third-party ad blockers, saying it was merely trying to make them safer. Still, skeptics are more inclined to believe Google trying to make its own version, so it can double-dip in profits from ads and its own ad-blocking service.

If you’re interesting in trying the premium Firefox, you can currently sign up on Mozilla’s website after filling out a short survey. Currently, there’s no concrete timeline for when the ad-free beta launches, but signing up will put your email on a notification list for when it’s ready.

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About the author

Victoria Song

Consumer tech reporter by day, danger noodle by night. No, I'm not the K-Pop star.