Publishers chafe at Apple’s terms for subscription news service

“Apple Inc.’s plan to create a subscription service for news is running into resistance from major publishers over the tech giant’s proposed financial terms, according to people familiar with the situation, complicating an initiative that is part of the company’s efforts to offset slowing iPhone sales,” Benjamin Mullin, Lukas I. Alpert, and Tripp Mickle report for The Wall Street Journal.

“In its pitch to some news organizations, the Cupertino, Calif., company has said it would keep about half of the subscription revenue from the service, the people said. The service, described by industry executives as a “Netflix for news,” would allow users to read an unlimited amount of content from participating publishers for a monthly fee. It is expected to launch later this year as a paid tier of the Apple News app, the people said,” Mullin, Alpert, and Mickle report. “The rest of the revenue would go into a pool that would be divided among publishers according to the amount of time users spend engaged with their articles, the people said. ”

“Representatives from Apple have told publishers that the subscription service could be priced at about $10 a month, similar to Apple’s streaming music service, but the final price could change, some of the people said. The New York Times and The Washington Post are among the major outlets that so far haven’t agreed to license their content to the service, in part because of concerns over the proposed terms, which haven’t been previously disclosed, according to the people familiar with the matter. Talks are ongoing, and deals with the publishers could still be reached,” Mullin, Alpert, and Mickle report. “The Wall Street Journal also has concerns, but its recent conversations with Apple have been productive, one of the people familiar with the matter said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What the publishers really hate is that they won’t have access to subscriber data (credit-cards, street addresses, email addresses, etc.) through Apple’s service which will value users’ privacy. The publishers won’t be able to market to their subscribers or sell their info to third parties.

Also, as soon as Apple launches their original content video service, an “Apple Prime” will make even more sense.

We’d really like to see a way to pay for all of the Apple services we choose for one price. Give us a bunch of tick boxes and let us choose our combination of iCloud storage, Apple Music, iTunes Match, etc. and let us pay a single price for all of our choices.MacDailyNews, October 17, 2016

Morgan Stanley: Apple can return to $1 trillion market value this year with new media bundling, video streaming services – February 4, 2019
Apple to relaunch Texture magazine subscription service as soon as spring 2019 – December 12, 2018
Apple to shut down Texture’s Windows app in July – May 4, 2018
Apple is rumored to be eying Condé Nast acquisition – May 1, 2018
Amazon considered buying Texture before Apple bit – March 13, 2018
Apple pushes deeper into news – March 13, 2018
Apple to acquire Next Issue Media and its digital magazine-subscription service Texture – March 12, 2018


  1. As MDN has pointed out, the subscriber data is probably very important to publishers as a source of possible income. Apple taking half of the subscription costs doesn’t take into account offsetting the value ‘lost’ by not having access to subscriber data. Something to be said though for Apple not being laughed out the door by publishers for suggesting the income split.

  2. Yes, selling newspapers is no longer about getting that 50¢ and that the end of the transaction. No. To stay alive, a newspaper must get your data so that it can make additional profits by selling it to other corporations and gov. officials as well as by using it to target you with phone calls and stalk you on the internet.

  3. With advertising revenues declining, a subscription model such as this one should be given serious consideration.

    Many of us remember how the music industry initially hated almost everything about iTunes music, especially the fixed price per track, but iTunes went on to become a major source of income for the publishers.

    Banks hated Apple Pay, but in Europe, it’s now widely used and gaining traction in the US too.

    Companies don’t like change, especially changes potentially affecting their traditional business model, but I’m sure that in time they will climb on board with Apple News subscriptions.

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