Apple Plans to Launch Its ‘Netflix for News’ Service Next Month

Posted on February 13, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple with 38 Comments

Apple’s much talked about news subscription service could be going public soon. The company has been working on a news subscription service that works similar to Netflix for a while, and it’s getting ready to launch the service next month.

BuzzFeed reported on Tuesday that Cupertino is planning to hold a services-focused event for on March 25, where the company will talk about its new services. The major focus is likely going to be on this new news subscription service, and it’s unclear if the company plans on discussing its upcoming streaming service that will go head to head with Netflix.

Apple has been pushing its services business recently, following declines on iPhone sale numbers. The company is reportedly in talks with major publications for the news subscription service, though it’s likely going to have some trouble getting publications to join the service. According to the WSJ, Apple is reportedly asking for a 50% cut of revenue from publishers. The service will likely be available for $9.99 a month to users.

Publications would have to give away 50% of their revenue to Apple, and the amount of revenue they generate will depend on how much time readers spend reading their content on the service. 50% is a huge cut for the journalism industry, so it’s not surprising to see Apple facing issues getting publications to sign-up for the service. Furthermore, the WSJ reports that publishers are concerned about access to user data that are crucial for their own marketing efforts.

Apple is unlikely to launch new hardware at the event, however. So if you were like me and waiting for the new AirPods or even the new iPad Mini, you are probably going to be disappointed.

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Comments (40)

40 responses to “Apple Plans to Launch Its ‘Netflix for News’ Service Next Month”

  1. rm

    Who is stupid enough to pay $120 a year to get their news on there phone when they have a million free options to get the news on their phone!

  2. maethorechannen

    I have to wonder what publishers are going to sign up with a 50% cut. Unless they're repackaging their free content and this just replaces ad revenue - though how many people are going to get cheesed off at paying 9.99 for content they can mostly get for free?

    • mattbg

      In reply to maethorechannen:

      I would pay for it, if there was some curation and all sources were organized through a common interface and without ads.

      Web news is becoming increasingly unreadable with all the tactics and tricks to get you to pay attention to something other than the content you came to read - even when you subscribe, in some cases.

      Understandable, but I'm happy to pay to get rid of it and will appreciate the option to do that.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to maethorechannen:

      I assume this will include magazines from their Texture service as well as larger pubs that would otherwise have paywalls.

  3. mattbg

    Nice to see Apple doing an event focused on services. I think at this point there's more chance of them generating excitement around the company in this area than in hardware.

    Apple's 50% cut is a big one, but if they somehow solve the pay-for-journalism problem across a variety of sources then they will have done the industry a big favor, and it could be an additional revenue stream that may not have existed previously. The larger-than-normal cut suggests they want to charge more than $9.99/mo but don't think the market will bear it.

    Still, if they don't have enough publishers then it won't be worth it. Netflix-for-News is a bad analogy because it suggests a load of secondary sources supplemented by a few A-listers and some homegrown content. I would not pay for that :) It has to be better than what PressReader offers.

    It'd be interesting to see how they distribute the revenue. It can't be done the way Spotify does it, where all of the funds are divided according to aggregate popularity. If I am reading local journalism through this service then I want the funds to go to those places.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to mattbg:

      If you want to fund local journalism then do so directly. This service will distribute funds based time spent engaging with content.

      • lvthunder

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        So that means the people with the best content will make the most amount of money. Instead of just needing someone to click on the story.

        • ejuly

          In reply to lvthunder:

          When has that ever been the case. People are more likely to go to news sources they agree according to Pew. How will this be any better than Apple news, Microsoft news, Google news, Flipboard, except that you can get beyond the paywall for other articles.

          • lvthunder

            In reply to ejuly:

            Chris is saying that the service will distribute funds based on time spent engaging with content. That means you need articles that people will read from top to bottom instead of the click bait headlines.

            There is a sports news site that doesn't have advertising. It's called The Athletic. You pay a subscription. There are zero ads so there is no need for the click bait headlines so they don't have them. Their stories tend to get more in depth then the stories on advertising based journalism.

  4. Patrick3D

    If they aggregate multiple news sources I wonder if they will show the unaware how all of them are copy-pasting the same press release with different spins on the headline.

  5. lordbaal1

    There are plenty of apps that give you free news.

  6. codymesh

    what justifies Apple taking a 50% cut? what is Apple's input? Disgusting, blatant rent-seeking behavior.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to codymesh:

      Why? That's the cut Amazon and most retailers take. For that 50% cut Apple will be providing signups, credit card processing, marketing, and probably distribution as well. Everyone complains about everything requiring a subscription. This gives you one subscription for many news organizations. Sites that you wouldn't subscribe to stand alone. Web based advertising isn't working anymore. I bet with this Apple service the news agencies will make more money per story read then they do with their current advertisements.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to codymesh:

      Apple's justification is that they have a huge, captive audience of high-value readers. Like Google, Amazon, Facebook or any other aggregator with a lot of users, Apple can wield a lot of influence over publishers who are largely interchangeable.

  7. Daekar

    It better be cross-platform and web-enabled or it's basically worthless.

    50% cut is crazy.

    • yoshi

      In reply to Daekar:

      I too would like it to be web-enabled. Knowing Apple though, nope.

    • provision l-3

      In reply to Daekar:

      I'm curious how you define worthless.

      I'm going to assume, maybe incorrectly, that Apple will roll this out on iPhone, iPad and Macs since all of them currently have the Apple News app. Apple's currently user base across those products is 1.3 billion. It would only take 3-5% of those people to sing up to turn the subscription into about a 5 billion dollar revenue stream annually.

      Obviously adding additional platforms and a web based option would open that up more but given the size of the existing user base it isn't inconceivable for Apple to produce healthy revenue stream on a service using the base alone.

      • Jeff Jones

        In reply to provision l-3:

        If Apple keeps it to their tiny platform, Google will decide they can do better and implement a similar model to the entire computing base and have an audience 5 times larger.

        • provision l-3

          In reply to DataMeister:

          So first off, describing an active user base of 1.3 billion as "tiny" is laughable.

          Second, why does it matter if someone else has a larger audience? This isn't a zero sum game. More than one company can make money doing the same thing.

          Lastly, having a larger audience doesn't equate to more revenue. Android has three times the audience of iOS and Google Play makes about half of the revenue of the App Store.

  8. Chris_Kez

    If Apple were really "committed to quality journalism" as they claimed last year after buying Texture, then they wouldn't be trying to pull 50% off the top.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      So you think Apple is a charity then? I'm willing to guess that after Apple's 50% take the news organization will make more money then they currently do with the banner ads they have now.

      • ejuly

        In reply to lvthunder: I do not think Apple is a charity - but they are by far the greediest F1000 company based on profit margin and what it charges others to play with them.

      • Chris_Kez

        In reply to lvthunder:

        Apologies; I should have been clearer. My issue is not with the 50% cut, per se, but with potentially disingenuous baloney. Apple is here to make money; plain and simple. No need to dress it up. There is a larger issue with the business model, which Ben Thompson nicely articulates here: As far as publishers making more money, I'm not so sure; see this Digiday article as an example:

        • lvthunder

          In reply to Chris_Kez:

          If they come up with a way to pay the quality pieces more than the junk then I think that would show a commitment to quality journalism. Hopefully Ben signs up for the service. I like a lot of the stuff that he writes. I just don't want to pay for yet another subscription.

  9. dontbe evil

    apple fans will love to be milked from this apple service

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