Apple reportedly wants to keep 50% of subscription news service revenue

Brittany A. Roston - Feb 12, 2019, 3:19 pm CST
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Apple reportedly wants to keep 50% of subscription news service revenue

Big publishers are pushing back against Apple’s alleged financial terms for a news subscription service, sources have claimed. The service, which some have described as similar to a “Netflix for news,” would reportedly have Apple keeping around half of the revenue brought in by subscriptions, with the remaining revenue being split up and distributed to publishers based on content engagement.

Apple’s current News offering is free, but the company is expected to launch a subscription news service that will allow subscribers to read unlimited content from publishers who participate in the service. Customers will reportedly pay a monthly subscription fee for access, but a new report claims Apple’s alleged financial terms aren’t sitting well with publishers.

It’s unclear at this time how much Apple will charge for its anticipated paid news subscription, but sources have claimed that it would sit around $10/month. Multiple major publishers have, according to the sources, failed to sign onto the plan due in part to the financial terms; among these publishers is allegedly the New York Times and Washington Post.

The alleged financial terms aren’t the only thing causing resistance among some publishers, the sources claim. Another is Apple’s supposed desire to get a minimum of one year of content from some publishers; some of the potential partners reportedly want more flexibility to leave the service. As well, the report claims that publishers “likely” won’t be given access to the data gathered on subscribers, which may make it more difficult for them to market themselves to readers.

The publishing industry has struggled to find a model that works for both readers and publishers. Many news outlets remain ad-supported, some offering optional monthly subscriptions or accepting donations from readers. Others have transitioned to locking all content behind a paywall, while others offer a certain amount of free content to all readers, requiring payment to access the rest.

No single model has proven particularly fruitful, and a subscription service akin to the one expected from Apple may become a popular alternative. For its part, the Wall Street Journal has stated that it has concerns of its own over Apple’s terms, but a source said that it has had “productive” conversations with Apple recently.

The sources claim that talks between Apple and publishers are still happening and that it’s possible the two groups may strike deals over the subscription news service. One source claimed that Apple has considered bundling the subscription news service with a package that could include iCloud storage and its anticipated upcoming original TV shows. Apple, for its part, has not commented on the claims.


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