Apple reportedly has plans to work with publishers to support viewing subscription content in its Apple News app, according to Reuters which cites two anonymous sources. Currently, the Apple News app does not support authenticating subscriber log-ins. That means content can’t be behind a pay wall and can only be monetized by web advertising when readers follow through to the publisher’s website or by using iAds. Apple’s iAd network is noticeably going through a shuffle at the moment with the company recently announcing the end of its App Network where developers advertise their apps.
The move would allow publishers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, which are already Apple News partners, to bring over their pay wall setup and potentially require readers to actively subscribe before viewing a certain number of articles within a given period of time.
The move will likely satisfy publishers which are increasingly looking for ways to diversity content, but placing content behind a pay wall with an iOS app that’s built-in to iPhones and iPads likely won’t come without criticism.
As it stands now, it’s questionable how many active readers are engaging with Apple’s News app, which debuted with iOS 9 in September, although Apple said it had 40 million users three months ago shortly after it’s launch. Since then, Apple has shared that it has actually been undercounting how many users are reading the News app due to a bug that is being addressed.
In a recent 9to5Mac poll of our readers, just over half of those who responded answered positively to sometimes or regularly using the Apple News app.
The new report highlights that publishers are still dissatisfied with the information about readers within the News app that Apple is relaying back to them. The report lacks specifics about when Apple could implement the feature as well as how the feature might work and if Apple would require a revenue split between it and the publishers.
At any rate, be prepared to see a pay wall possibly in the not-so-distant future when browsing Apple’s News app. For comparison, iOS apps from publishers mentioned above already support subscription log ins and pay walled content as does the web. Newsstand, which Apple’s News app replaces, similarly supported app log ins to monetize content.
Apple News is currently available in the USA, UK, and Australia.