Apple CEO Tim Cook alluded to more services coming this year, and this week we’re learning more about what the company has in store for news. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Apple has been in talks with publishers about a subscription news service that would be a new paid tier of its existing Apple News app. However, the company has been butting heads with publishers over monetary details—Apple reportedly wants to keep 50 percent of subscription revenue from the service.
This so-called “Netflix for news” service would allow customers to access an unlimited amount of content from included publishers for a monthly fee. The service could be around $10 per month, similar to Apple Music, but the cost hasn’t been finalized yet.
Apple has talked with publishers including The New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, but they (and others) have concerns about Apple’s terms. The company wants 50 percent of revenue for itself, and the remaining 50 percent would be divided among participating publishers “according to the amount of time users spend engaged with their articles.”
In addition, Apple wouldn’t share customer data with publishers. Information including credit card numbers and email addresses would not be provided to publishers if they agreed to Apple’s terms as they currently stand. That information can be crucial for publishers to grow their subscriber base, market new products to readers, and more.
This isn’t the first time Apple has proposed steep demands to potential and existing partners. The iPhone maker has reportedly had creative differences with some film and TV show creators that the company is working with to produce original content for Apple’s upcoming TV streaming service. Apple has replaced showrunners and even axed projects entirely to avoid featuring content that has “gratuitous sex, profanity, or violence.“
The company reportedly wants to fill its TV subscription service, which is also slated to debut this year, with family-friendly content. The subscription news service in addition to the TV streaming service are key to Apple’s growth in the years to come as the company focuses more on its services business rather than device sales. While iPhone sales continue to trend downward, Apple’s services business reached $10.9 billion in revenue last quarter—and Apple will not slow down its efforts on that front.
But Apple may have to bend a bit to snag content licenses from the necessary number of publishers to create a paid news subscription service. Having sought-after publications that cover a variety of topics will be key to the service’s success.
The paid Apple News service could debut next month. A report from BuzzFeed News suggests that Apple is planning a “subscription-services focused” event for March 25. In the past, the company has debuted new iPads at March events, so it would be surprising if this event didn’t include at least one hardware announcement. We’re currently waiting for Apple to debut new AirPods and a new version of the iPad Mini.