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Will Apple News+ Threaten Digital Media Subscriptions?

At $10 per month, Apple's new service might be very attractive to casual readers who want to peruse a few articles each month from a variety of news sources.
Apple News | Source: Shutterstock
By
  • Reuters

CUPERTINO, United States — Apple's new Apple News+ service consolidates popular newspaper and magazine subscriptions, which could appeal more to casual readers suffering from subscription fatigue than long-time fans of specific publications.

Avid readers of magazines like The New Yorker or newspapers like the Wall Street Journal may still keep individual subscriptions for full access to archives or to show support for their favorite publications directly.

But at $10 per month, Apple's service might be attractive to casual readers who want to peruse a few articles each month from a variety of news sources.

"It's good value," said Merrill Brown, a media consultant and founder of The News Project, which is building technology for news providers, adding that Apple should develop initiatives to support local news sources and those reporting on under-covered topics.

The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times will be part of the service, Apple announced on Monday. The financial news-focused Wall Street Journal will hire reporters to produce more general news content, the Journal has reported. A monthly digital subscription to the Wall Street Journal costs $39 per month.

Apple News+ readers will only get a curated selection of general interest news, while Wall Street Journal subscribers will continue to have exclusive access to its business reporting and analysis, said William Lewis, chief executive of Dow Jones and publisher of the Journal, in a memo on Monday.

It was unclear whether Apple News+ will include the entire content of all the participating magazines and newspapers.

Magazines from Condé Nast and Hearst, including The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, are also included with Apple's revamped news offering. They will be among the 300 magazines available with Apple News+, along with Wired and National Geographic.

The two publishing houses, along with Meredith Corp, which publishes People and InStyle magazines, formed an unlimited magazine-reading app called Texture that Apple bought in March 2018.

Magazine subscription costs vary widely. A yearly digital subscription to the New Yorker costs $100, while a digital subscription to Vanity Fair costs $20. Apple said subscribing to all the publications separately would cost a reader $8,000 per year.

The New York Times, the largest US newspaper by subscribers, is unlikely to be part of Apple’s news service.

Apple said the service will not allow advertisers to track what users read, and Apple itself will not have that data. The focus on privacy comes after numerous data scandals in the tech industry over the past year.

New York Times chief executive Mark Thompson previously told Reuters that the company was "leery" about consumers reading its journalism on other platforms and warned publishers of how Netflix disrupted the movie studio business and gained leverage by taking control of distribution.

The New York Times's subscription revenue grew 3 percent in 2018 from the previous year while its advertising revenue was stagnant. Facebook and Alphabet's Google have gained a near duopoly on digital advertising.

A monthly digital subscription to the Times costs $15, which the company is not willing to give up to be part of other platforms, Thompson has said.

By Sheila Dang; editor: Meredith Mazzilli.

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