Apple today announced a news bundle called Apple News Plus that will give subscribers access to more than 300 publications for a flat rate of $US9.99 a month. CEO Tim Cook emphasised Apple News as a trusted source of news picked by human editors. That contrasts Apple with rival tech giants Google and Facebook, which have had problems with fake and low-quality news on their platforms.
“With news so important to us, it’s critical that it be trusted,” Cook said during the event.
Apple showed off features like the ability to see full issues of magazines and easily browse them.
The news service will be part of the existing Apple News news app and is a relaunch of Texture, an all-you-can-read app that Apple bought in 2018. Publishing giants Hearst, Meredith, and Condé Nast have their publications included in the bundle because they are contractually obligated to be as former owners of the app, according to sources. Notable publishers that opted in included The Wall Street Journal, New York (plus its sibling digital verticals Vulture, The Cut, and Grub Street), Vox and TheSkimm. BI Prime stories are also available in Apple News Plus.
But other major publications and newspapers, namely The New York Times and Washington Post, opted out of the bundle.
Will Lewis, publisher of the Journal, suggested in an internal memo that Apple News Plus wouldn’t be aimed at the Journal’s core, business-news subscribers. It “will introduce an entirely new category of readers who will have the opportunity to experience a specially curated collection of general interest news from The Wall Street Journal,” he wrote.
The bundle has been controversial among publishers. Critics worry Apple won’t share the subscriber data with publishers that they need to nurture their relationship with readers; that the revenue they get (Apple is sharing half of the revenue with publishers based on how much time people spend with their content) won’t be that meaningful because there isn’t that much demand for a news bundle; and that, conversely, Apple’s subscription service will hurt publishers by cannibalising their existing, pricier subscription business.
There are other concerns: that being part of a bundle will dilute these publishers’ brand awareness; that compensating publishers based on time spent with their content will create bad incentives for publishers; and that publishers that don’t participate in the bundle will fall out of Apple’s favour when it comes to getting their content promoted on the free portion of the Apple News app.
Here are some of the major publishing companies and publications that are participating in the service:
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal’s inclusion in the Apple News app surprised some media observers who thought the Journal stood to lose a lot by being part of a bundle that at $US10 a month is cheaper than the Journal’s own subscriptions at $US39 a month. Will Lewis, publisher of the Journal, said in an internal memo that he saw Apple News+ as introducing the Journal to a new category of readers that the paper would serve a collection of specially curated general interest news to, though.
Hearst publishes 25 US titles, including some of the biggest women’s magazines (Cosmopolitan, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar) and Esquire and Popular Mechanics.
Another participant in Apple News+ is Condé Nast, whose 16 US titles include the famed Vogue, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker.
Meredith will have its 31 women’s and lifestyle magazines, including People, Better Homes and Gardens, and Parents, in the bundle.
New York magazine
New York magazine is celebrated for its cultural and political coverage and iconic covers.
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times joins The Wall Street Journal as a daily newspaper that’s available on Apple News+.
Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg cofounded theSkimm, an email newsletter that’s popular with millennial women.
The iconic music and culture magazine was co-founded by Jann Wenner.
National Geographic was used to demonstrate how Apple News+ will enable magazines to show animated covers in the app.
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