Apple News+ was officially announced last week, integrating over 300 magazines and publishers into a single subscription service. Apple, however, was unable to ink deals with two other major newspapers. A new report from Vanity Fair explores Apple’s failed negotiations with The New York Times and The Washington Post.
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While Apple was able to reach a deal with The Wall Street Journal, it didn’t have the same success with the NYT or Washington Post. According to today’s report, however, it wasn’t because of a lack of trying.
Eddy Cue led negotiations for Apple and “badly wanted to lock down at least one of them,” the report says. Cue is said to have first started pushing last year following Apple’s acquisition of Texture, with Cue “in and out of their offices really trying to woo them.”
Apple badly wanted to lock down at least one of them, and it began a vigorous courtship of the papers last spring, not long after the Texture deal closed and Apple’s plans for its content bundle were beginning to materialize, according to people familiar with the matter. “They put a tremendous amount of pressure on,” one source said. “Eddy Cue was in and out of their offices really trying to woo them.”
Cue’s pitch to The New York Times and Washington Post is said to have centered on the reach of Apple’s audience. “We’ll make you the most-read newspaper in the world,” Cue reportedly said in negotiations.
Apple, however, did not offer concessions in how much content publishers would offer, meaning it wanted publications to offer all content, not just a subset. Apple did reportedly offer both exclusivity and the ability for publishers to pull out of the deal completely:
“They didn’t want to have limitations in terms of content,” according to a person with knowledge of the talks. But Apple dangled flexible terms governing the duration after which they could pull out, as well as exclusivity. “You’d be protected against a competitor coming in,” the same source said. “If this thing was really successful and everyone else came back to the table, there was a period where you’d have exclusivity.”
In a statement, the Time’s chief operating officer Merideth Kopek Levien said that the paper’s goal is to foster a relationship between reader and news provider:
“We’ve been pretty deliberate about saying that the best place you can experience journalism is through a relationship with a news provider. So far for us, that has meant a direct relationship with users. The more we have a relationship with users, the better we think our business will be, and the better the experience that we can provide to them.”
Kris Coratti, a spokesperson for the Post, echoed that sentiment:
“Our focus is on growing our own subscription base, so joining Apple News+ did not make sense for us at this point. Apple has been a very good partner—we will continue collaborating with them on other ongoing projects and expect to do many things with them in the future.”
The full Vanity Fair report is absolutely worth a read and can be found here.
Meanwhile, a separate report from Monday Note details the effects that Apple News+ could have on the magazine industry. The report explains that the US magazine industry could lose up to 50 percent of its revenue per reader because of Apple News+.
Yes. Extended elevator pitch: 3 million digital subs (for nyt) is nothing compared to what we can deliver. https://t.co/ilKISPT87A
— Peter Kafka (@pkafka) April 1, 2019