More details about the rumored new Apple News service are starting to surface including how much it might cost per month and how much publishers could earn. There’s even an Apple event date rumored for when we should expect to see it announced. Here’s what we know so far about the Apple News service:
Apple News Today
Apple’s upcoming service around news certainly won’t be its first. Since 2015, Apple has shipped its Apple News app on iPhones and iPads in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Apple News will soon work in Canada as well with bilingual support for English and French. Apple also recently brought its News app to the Mac in macOS Mojave.
The app features content from publishers who support the Apple News format. Users follow publications and topics for personalized stories surfaced based on Apple’s recommendation engine.
Apple News also has an editorial team behind it which drives a section of the app that features content from publications highlighted by Apple for all readers. Apple News occasionally features exclusive content like excerpts from upcoming book releases and custom infographics around trending topics including major elections. Apple News and its editorial team does not do original reporting however.
Apple News Revenue
Apple News as we know it today is generally free. The app is pre-installed on iPhones, iPads, and Macs in countries where it’s supported, and there’s no fee for accessing Apple’s spotlighted content. Most publications also include free content for reading inside the app.
Publishers can provide their own ads within Apple News as a revenue stream, and Apple has its own ad program for Apple News which involves a revenue split between Apple and publishers.
Since originally launching, Apple News has also added support for paywalled content within Apple News. This is content that requires an active subscription to access on the web. Apple doesn’t sell subscriptions to paywalled content today; it only supports authenticating active subscriptions sold outside of Apple News.
Apple News Rumors
What we expect to change for Apple News is the introduction of a new subscription service. Pay Apple a monthly fee to unlock paywalled content from all participating publishers.
The appeal for consumers would be a single monthly fee that gives access to a variety of otherwise paywalled content without deciding which subscriptions to support. And for publishers, Apple is likely promising a large pool of potential customers who might not otherwise bother with paywalls across multiple publications.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is pitching publishers on a potential $9.99/month subscription, although it adds that the decisions aren’t final. The same report says that major publishers including The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal are resistant to a proposed revenue split.
According to the report, Apple wants to keep 50% of the revenue from each subscriber, splitting the remaining 50% among participating publishers based on engagement. Publishers are also not pleased with losing revenue generated from valuable marketing data traditionally sourced from subscribers since Apple’s position on privacy would see customer data kept secret.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has told analysts that new revenue streams are coming this year as well:
On services, you will see us announce new services this year. There will more things coming. I don’t wanna tell you about what they are and I’m not gonna forecast precisely, the ramps and so forth. But they’re things that we feel really great about, that we’ve been working on for multiple years.
Two and a half years after launching the Apple News app, Apple bought a competing app with a subscription model called Texture. The service charges a monthly fee for unlimited access to digital content from traditionally print magazine sources. Apple still operates Texture today, although the service isn’t expected to continue once Apple integrates it into Apple News. 9to5Mac has seen evidence in recent iOS betas that Apple is already testing a paid Apple News Magazines feature modeled after Texture.
What’s unclear is how Apple will distinguish magazine and news content. While Texture primarily focuses on digital versions of print media from magazines, the app and service don’t include news content from newspaper publishers. Apple’s new subscription service is expected to include both news and magazine publishers.
Prior to Apple News, Apple offered an iOS feature called Newsstand that promoted publications with iPhone and iPad apps. Once positioned as the future of digital news, Newsstand failed after a few short years due to technical hurdles with each publication required to maintain its own app and diminishing benefits.
Newsstand originally offered participating publishers technical benefits in addition to being showcased in a specialized folder on the Home screen. Newsstand apps could update regularly in the background so content was reliably delivered before a reader launched the app, but background updates eventually expanded to more apps. Apple has also expanded subscription support to more apps.
Starting with iOS 7, Newsstand was redesigned from a specialized folder that couldn’t be hidden inside other folders to more of a traditional app that could be buried away. Newsstand apps originally included unique “covers” that updated regularly, but even that appeal was lost with the redesign. Newsstand was later discontinued and participating apps were restored to behave like normal apps on the Home screen.
While we await more details and the official announce rumored for late March, what do you make of the rumored new subscription Apple News service so far? Would you pay $10/month for an Apple News Premium service? Would it depend on if it includes both news and magazines, or would you pay more for both types of content? Vote in our poll, and stay tuned for more coverage leading up to Apple’s rumored event.