U.S. News Giants Opt Out of Apple News Service

Posted on March 21, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Cloud with 56 Comments

The Wall Street Journal will be joining Apple’s coming news subscription service, but The New York Times and Washington Post are out.

That’s according to a new report in The New York Times that cites several sources who were not authorized to speak publicly about the plans.

Apple’s coming news subscription service isn’t getting as much press as Apple’s coming video subscription service, but both are expected to be announced, if not launched, next Monday, on March 25. It’s been described as a “Netflix for news,” because every subscription service must now be called the Netflix for something, and will be offered as a paid tier to Apple’s News app, which is available now only in iOS and on the Mac.

Which raises an interesting point: Will Apple port its News app to Windows, the web, and Android, making it universally available? Or will it continue to offer it only to those in its insular ecosystem?

Controversially, Apple is offering news publishers a risky deal that greatly increases Apple’s share of revenues: It is asking for 50 percent of all Apple News-based revenues, a big jump over the 30 percent that it demands from other in-app payments. The subscription is expected to cost consumers $10 per month, so $5 would go to Apple and $5 would be split between publishers, probably based on views.

Apple will also hide customer data from news publishers, as it does now with customer data from iOS and Mac Store apps: Those customers are Apple’s customers, not the app maker’s (or news publisher’s) customers. That means that publishers won’t be able to interact directly with those who read their publications, whereas they routinely do so when there is a direct relationship.

These two factors are probably the driving force behind The New York Times and Washington Post rejecting Apple’s overtures. But that could change if the paid version of Apple News succeeds somehow.

Tagged with

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (56)

56 responses to “U.S. News Giants Opt Out of Apple News Service”

  1. j_c

    I would much rather see the rise of a news service that focuses on bringing International news sources and sources of information that aren't the giant corporate establishment forward. We can get recycled AP stories anywhere. We can get the NYT's hot take anywhere. We need quality sources (Not Alex Jones) of information that exists maybe a little outside of the main steam American consensus opinion. Asks questions, ruffles feathers, is non-partisan. Maybe some actual investigative journalism and not just a retelling of a company or government's press release.

    Apple is a giant American corporation so I don't expect them to do it but that is where I would like to see the content come from and the dollars go to. Otherwise who needs yet another way to get the exact same content available everywhere else?

    • the_real_entheos

      In reply to j_c:
      Absolutely, the establishment line from the big 6 U.S. news organizations that spits out government propaganda is worth a little less than nothing. Nobody should miss them. Just the B.S. about Venezuela is proof positive that they don't care about giving us the truth.

  2. jbinaz

    If they make it available cross-platform, I'd consider it just for the WSJ. At $15.60/month for 12 months on their site, the $10/month via Apple is a steal, especially if you get other services worth reading.

    • GeekWithKids

      In reply to jbinaz:

      Sure for the Consumer it's a steal, but why would WSJ embrace it. They would go from getting over$15 dollars a month to getting a piece of $5. Even if they make it cross platform, can they reach enough people to make it worth it for the big publishers.

      Sure some small guys could see an uptick in readers and maybe make some money but for the big guys it wouldn't be worth it. And without the big guys can it really succeed?

      • lvthunder

        In reply to GeekWithKids:

        Yes they can make it up with numbers. Look how quickly Apple Music caught up with Spotify. A lot of these newspapers and magazines are suffering so a little money vs no money is worth it.

      • jbinaz

        In reply to GeekWithKids:

        Well, the article is claiming that they are on board. I have no idea of their reasoning for joining the Apple News service, but they must think it's worth it (assuming it does come to fruition).

        Honestly, if the WSJ simply lowered their cost, I'd consider subscribing to just the WSJ. But they seem opposed to that.

  3. Lordbaal

    Apple news already have a free app. You also have Google news, Microsoft news, Yahoo news, and a lot of others that are free. So why would someone want to go and pay for news?

  4. nbplopes

    Jokes aside, I've been lately concerned about how Apple is treating "their Customers".

    In several occasions the concept of "their Customers" have been used by Apple in a way that gave me the sensation that they now feel entitled to use me as an Apple product. I felt this in the way they answered to Spotify and it seams that us customers, have become products sold by Apple to publishers for 50% of the revenue generated by their services. Spotify 30% and what else?

    Humm. This does not right to me. Apple is asking for trouble if it thinks the rules of engagement do not apply to them.

    I find it highly disrespectful to publishers brands and journalism in general. Apple has done nothing, absolutely nothing for journalism or freedom of speech to deserve 50% of someone business. Nothing, nothing, damn nothing! Much less art.

    If this continues they will see the wrath MS met with the Windows Phone initiative a lot sooner than I thought.

    Is Apple becoming unwise as Steve Jobs is gone?

    • lvthunder

      In reply to nbplopes:

      To this point Apple has done nothing. They are going to start doing something. If you are a publication with 500k subscribers and someone came to you with say 2 million people to read and pay for your content that's not nothing.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to lvthunder:

        If someone told you

        “I’ll make you rich. All you have todo is give me half of what you earn rght now” would you believe it?

        Tell me one thing. Would you give half of your customers to someone else hoping to get millions more in return? Half of your entire business for a promise ... heck not even a promise?

        Your believe that Apple would just give you millions of customers, just like that is mind boggling.

        Do do you think your business will be earning as much as WSJ just like that?

        Do you believe in Santa?

        Are you dumb, blind or just naive?

        If you want to save a business you just don’t take half of its revenue! Period!

        What Apple wants is for you to get them customers for their news service and have you pay half of the subscription price for the previlege. Not to mention to have journalists working for their news service not only for free but have you pay Apple for them to work there.

        Lololol. Ridiculous. Just ridiculous.

        I am starting to wonder if we have a Tim the want to be leader/visionary or Tim $Crook$. We know we have a Tim $Cook$ the leader not so much the successful tech visionary.

        • Greg Green

          In reply to nbplopes:

          Using ivthunder’s example, half of four times as big is twice the original number.

          Why would you be against doubling your revenues? Seems like you’re the dumb one.

          • nbplopes

            In reply to Greg Green:

            I am not against doubling my revenues.

            Pretending to be CEO of one of the companies targeted ....

            We can do this. If and when you get me 4+ times the revenue I have now in subscriptions I start sharing revenue coming from your channel 50/50. Until than I give you the same percentage I would to an analog newsstand.


  5. lvthunder

    Good. I don't trust the New York Times or the Washington Post.

  6. wright_is

    And in "slightly" related news, online shoe and clothing retailer Zalando has dropped ApplePay after a 3 month trial. saying it doesn't provide an optimal shopping experience...

    • lvthunder

      In reply to wright_is:

      Did they elaborate? Apple Pay is easier for me then pulling out a credit card.

      • wright_is

        In reply to lvthunder:

        Apple Pay was only launched in December last year and Zalando ran a 3 month trial and just said that at the current time, it doesn't provide a good shopping experience. They would be looking at it and seeing if they can have a dialogue to improve the experience.

        I'm assuming that it comes down to a few things a) Apple's small market share, b) it is a new service and not many use it c) Apple only supports 4 banks, 2 of which are smaller, regional banks d) Apple probably take a bigger cut than most other "card" suppliers (I don't know what they take here and I don't know why they only support 4 banks).

        Add that to the fact that in Germany a lot of people don't have a credit card and often buy either online on invoice (pay after delivery) or cash in advance, I suspect that it is currently too expensive for Zalando to entertain for such a small audience.

  7. skane2600

    Paid online news services are a niche business and will remain so.

  8. codymesh

    publishers like NYTimes fought very hard to remain independent, it will take a lot for them to give up their independence.

  9. Detective Polarphant

    You give us 50% of your earnings each week and details of all your customers - it would be a shame if your business were to burn down.

  10. Jackwagon

    Given that the Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, who probably considers Apple to be a pretty big competitor, their rejection of the idea makes perfect sense even before the 50% cut and walled-off customer data. At the same time, I am kind of surprised that the Wall Street Journal decided to go in on this, but I guess they decided it was a good deal (and it's not the first time the Murdochs hitched their wagon to Apple's ecosystem).

  11. Yaggs

    I hate how there are like 5 big companies that are trying to be the filters for everything we do on the web... the promise of an *open* web is slowly disappearing everyday. What happened to RSS? Why do we need an Apple News, Google News, MSN News app? People are far too willing to put trust and control in these companies to be the gateways for information. These publishers need to get together and develop some kind of open platform or system so they don't need to run everything through a company like Apple or Google.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to Yaggs:

      I can only surmise that most people don't want to go through the trouble of identifying good, reliable sources and tracking down the content they're interested in. And publishers want you to visit their site or subscribe directly. So there are incompatible desires there. It's a tough nut to crack. Publishers have had more than a decade to come up with something and they haven't.

    • mattbg

      In reply to Yaggs:

      I think it's because there's too much news - especially now that clickbait is the goal - and it takes too much time to find reliable sources with content that adds something new to a given story.

      And, these news companies need to be paid without relying on direct subscription.

      Even on some legitimate news sites, I now find it challenging to focus on the content and decipher it from the advertising. It's getting out of hand. I want this to go away and I am willing to pay for it to go away.

      Any aggregator that can do a great job at this and also allow me to focus on content rather than advertising is worth a lot to me - I'd probably be willing to pay $30/mo if it was done well.

    • beatnixxx

      In reply to Yaggs:

      I am a paid subscriber to theoldreader.com (happily) and still consume the majority of my news through RSS. I don't know how long it will be around, but it's such a clearly superior (for me) way to get your news delivered to you. I will be a user/consumer of RSS until it's dead.

  12. christian.hvid

    Unless Apple is making exclusive deals with the publishers (which I find unlikely), it's setting itself up for failure. Anyone, including Netflix itself, could easily undercut Apple's fees - and offer a much broader platform to boot. The only way Apple could get away with this money grab is if it bars any competing services from iOS and macOS (which it's certainly not above doing).

  13. m_p_w_84

    Apple’s behaviour is increasingly outrageous. I think it’s deplorable to do a deal with them. They deserve bringing down via state anti trust / monopoly litigation.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to m_p_w_84:

      Under what grounds. Apple doesn't have a monopoly in any market.

      • dontbe evil

        In reply to lvthunder:


        • I offer a platform with a store, ok
        • to sell apps on my platform you have to use my store, ok
        • when you sell an app or inapp purchase or a subscription I take 30%, ok
        • on my store, there are audio streaming, video streaming and news subscription service, ok
        • I start to sell my own audio streming service, I take 100%, ok
        • MMM nice, I'm going to start also my own video streaming and news service, I still take 100%, ok
        • mmm if my competitors sell their service at 10, they earn 7 ... I can sell the same at 8 or 9 and still earn 8 or 9... COOL !!!

      • Andi

        In reply to lvthunder:

        They have a dominant position in the US and in Japan. In the situation of a duopoly in the US and Japan, ios can be forced to allow Spotify to use their own payment service like they do on Android or like Apple does on Android.

    • Greg Green

      In reply to m_p_w_84:

      Let’s not have government legislate personal preferences. If you don’t like Apple then don’t use them. Getting the government involved in businesses strategies means the businesses will get involved in governments by flooding them with thousands of lobbyists.

      The MS case is a great example. MS did almost no lobbying before their justice case, now they do tons of lobbying, as does google and all the other tech companies in order to preemptively influence decisions and actions.

      If you think apple’s behavior is outrageous then don’t offer them your news service. But don’t demand the government get involved and force action one way or the other for others.

  14. bart

    As with any service, shy away from Apple. Don't get locked into the ecosystem. Simply not necessary these days as there are plenty of alternative services.

  15. dontbe evil

    hopefully more services will join forces with spotify, netflix and antitrust to fight apple

    • toukale

      In reply to dontbe_evil:

      To fight Apple about what? Last time I check Apple/iPhone market shares were in the teens. Android and Google have an overwhelming 80%+ market shares. No companies are going to go out of business if they are not on any of Apples platform. So what are the criterias we are using for antitrust in this instance?

      • dontbe evil

        In reply to toukale:


        • I offer a platform with a store, ok
        • to sell apps on my platform you have to use my store, ok
        • when you sell an app or inapp purchase or a subscription I take 30%, ok
        • on my store, there are audio streaming, video streaming and news subscription service, ok
        • I start to sell my own audio streming service, I take 100%, ok
        • MMM nice, I'm going to start also my own video streaming and news service, I still take 100%, ok
        • mmm if my competitors sell their service at 10, they earn 7 ... I can sell the same at 8 or 9 and still earn 8 or 9... COOL !!!
      • MikeGalos

        In reply to toukale:

        Monopoly power is determined by ability to affect a market. What's defined as a market is up to the prosecutors. The market can be product line specific if they choose so you could see "Operating systems for Macintosh compatible computers" or "Application distributors for iOS based tablets" defined as a market.

        It can even vary based on charges inside a single case. In DOJ vs. Microsoft, Apple was considered a competitor in Microsoft's monopoly market in some charges and not in others.

        • Greg Green

          In reply to MikeGalos:

          You have a monopoly on MikeGalos comments. Should I call the DOJ?

        • lvthunder

          In reply to MikeGalos:

          Defining markets that narrowly is disingenuous. I can't install another OS in my car or TV. Why should a phone or a computer be any different? Or should we break up Honda because I can't install the Toyota OS in my Honda.

        • toukale

          In reply to MikeGalos:

          We can't change the rules of the game as we go because we do not like what some companies are doing. This is business, there needs to be clear precise rules for companies to follow. In the US we decided decades ago it was price. While that was fine for the industrial age, it is now an outdated rule/law and makes no sense in the digital age (specially when the price to consumers is zero).

          The EU have a much better approach for the digital age, which is market competition instead of consumer price. They have a much better chance of success at finding Apple guilty of anti trust violation. But the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion there is not enough there to find Apple guilty of anti trust laws. Is Apple acting like jerks to squeeze more out of those folks on their platform, absolutely, but is that enough to find them guilty of anti trust? In Europe android have 85%+ market shares, and Spotify is the 800lbs gorilla in music streaming there.

  16. dstrauss

    I think everyone's math is wrong here. As I understand Apple's pricing, Apple get $5 out every $10, but the publishers SPLIT the remaining $5 - so if you are The New York Times you don't get $5, you get a fraction based on some sharing formula with ALL publications. It's not as simple as saying if you have 500k subscribers at $10 now, and Apple delivers 4,000,000 eyes, you would double your revenue.

Leave a Reply