8 Facts All Publishers Should Know About Apple News Plus

Esra Celebi

Apple launched its new subscription service "Apple News Plus" in the USA and Canada in March 2019. Find out what the Apple service offers publishers and who can join in in our article.

Apple launched its subscription service "Apple News Plus" in the USA and Canada in March 2019. However, Apple News is currently only available for use in the USA, Australia and the UK - and Apple has given no indication of whether and when an international expansion is planned.

What is Apple News+

Apple News+ is a paid subscription service for digital news and magazines offered by Apple. The service extends the free Apple News service and offers subscribers access to a wide range of content, including news articles, magazines and digital magazines, for $9.99 per month. In addition to basic news content, Apple News+ offers a variety of features that make it easier to read and discover content.

With a wide selection of content, subscribers can access articles from well-known newspapers, magazines and digital magazines. The variety of sources available allows users to deepen their interests and explore different perspectives.

Apple News + now has around 700,00 users.  

Apple News Plus included magazines

What advantages does Apple News+ offer publishers?

Apple News+ offers publishers a variety of benefits and opportunities to make their content accessible to a wider audience. With readers from different countries, the platform enables publishers to present their content internationally, which means an extended reach and the development of new target groups.

A major advantage for publishers is the possibility of monetization. Apple News+ provides various monetization options, including subscriptions and ads. This gives publishers the opportunity to generate revenue while offering high-quality content.

The diversity of supported content is another advantage of Apple News+. Publishers can offer a wide range of content, from traditional news articles to magazines and digital magazines. This flexibility allows publishers to unleash their creativity and use different formats to engage their readers.

By using artificial intelligence, Apple News+ offers a personalized user experience. Publishers can adapt content based on readers' preferences and behavior, leading to stronger engagement and longer reading times.

The comprehensive user analytics provided by Apple News+ give publishers valuable insights into the behavior of their readers. These analyses can be used to optimize content, improve the user experience and make strategic decisions for the future.

The seamless integration of Apple News+ into the entire Apple ecosystem makes it easier for users to access content. The strong presence of Apple devices allows publishers to benefit from a broad readership.

The Family Sharing feature allows Apple News+ subscribers to share the service with up to six family members. This promotes the distribution of content within families and opens up additional reach opportunities.

Apple claims 50% of the total subscription revenue for itself and leaves the remaining 50% to publishers. These are further divided - based on how many people read the articles.

This raises understandable concerns among publishers, as they usually earn significantly more with their own subscription service.

Overall, Apple News+ offers publishers a comprehensive platform to present and monetize their content and strengthen reader loyalty. The combination of international reach, personalized user experience and monetization options makes the service attractive for publishers in the digital publishing industry.

Which publishers are participating in Apple News Plus?

Renowned publications are already in the process

In the US, over 300 magazines are included in Apple News Plus. And they come in a variety of categories, including lifestyle, entertainment, news, and many more.

Apple has already won over most major magazine publishers such as Conde Nast, Hearst, Time Inc. and Meredith with its offering.

Well-known magazines such as Vogue, National Geographic Magazine, The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal are also on board.

Here you will find a selection of participating titles:

  • Newspapers: The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times
  • News & Politics: Time, The New Yorker, The Atlantic
  • Finance & Business: Forbes, Money, Inc. magazine
  • Lifestyle: ELLE, Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, GQ
  • Science and technology: Wired, National Geographic, CNET
  • Entertainment: Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, People, OK
  • Sports: Runners World, Sports Illustrated

You can find a complete list here or here. That looks great, doesn't it?

What does participation mean in concrete terms?

The publishing industry was surprised when the Wall Street Journal announced it would become part of Apple's 9.99 package. That's because the Wall Street Journal's annual subscription costs hundreds of dollars - or about $38.99 per month. How can the Journal benefit from this deal?

Brian Stelter (CNN) reported on Twitter, citing inside sources, that Apple News Plus users would get access to "a curated collection of general interest articles." To access complete information, users would still need to log in to the WSJ portal.

Amol Sharma, a Journal reporter, tweeted that Apple News Plus subscribers "will have access to almost all WSJ articles, but the app will only show general interest articles." According to Sharma, the WSJ seems to be hoping that most users would not look for other articles in the app beyond that.

What do magazines look like in Apple News Plus?

Magazines can look spectacular. With magazines, it is of course extremely important how the layout looks. After all, reading a magazine is also an experience based on design and artwork.

Apple has worked with selected publishers to bring magazines to life. And to create a new reading experience for the News Plus app.

Apple News Plus Magazine Look

Magazines like Sport Illustrated and The New Yorker have iPad-friendly designs, spectacular photos, animated covers, well-formatted text and dynamic content pages. They're really fun to read.

At least on the iPad, you don't feel like you're sacrificing your reading experience for the sake of digitalization. Because at the end of the day, it's all about the reading experience, isn't it?

Nevertheless, there are magazines such as Total Film, for example, which are only PDF files of the print edition. This is reasonably readable on an iPad, but on an iPhone it looks really adventurous.

Over time, much more consistency and better quality is expected here.

Is there ad tracking in Apple News Plus?

The company promises that it does not know what users read in Apple News Plus. In addition, Apple will not allow advertisers to track readers. If you take Apple at its word, that's a huge advantage for all subscribers for now.

Apple doesn't allow ad tracking

In addition: "What you read in Apple News Plus will not follow you on the Internet." This sentence also comes from the company. The subscription should be the product, not the reader's data.

For publishers, this approach means that customer data is not shared with them. Publishers can only see what content is being read.

Apple explains that the app learns what users are interested in while they are reading. And then suggests articles that are relevant to them. In this way, the service is tailored to the interests of the reader.

Difference between Facebook and Apple News+

Apple News+ and Facebook are two different platforms with different focuses and functions.

While Apple News+ is a paid subscription service for digital news and magazines, Facebook is a social media platform that allows users to share content, interact with each other and connect with friends. The focus of Apple News+ is on high-quality editorial content, while Facebook's focus is on social interaction and the sharing of different content.  

The problems of Facebook & Co.

With Apple News, Apple has entered the complex world of news.

Unlike Google, Facebook and Twitter, which have been criticized for their sometimes negative influence on the dissemination of information, Apple has so far avoided controversy.

This is mainly because, while the others rely on algorithms to select headlines, Apple uses humans.

According to experts, artificial intelligence is not able to distinguish fake news from fact-based information. AI cannot understand fake news because AI does not understand the craft of writing.

Facts vs. Fake News

News selected by people

In contrast to Apple, Facebook, for example, uses artificial intelligence to differentiate between fake news and fact-based information. With its new approach, which puts people at the center, Apple has gone in the opposite direction.

At Apple, people choose the app's top stories, not algorithms. People consider the trustworthiness and credibility of a story before pushing it out to the masses.

With Apple News, there is no algorithm to guide readers to fake news. With the looming danger that this news will have high engagement rates because it intentionally triggers fear or outrage.

Apple believes it has the best way to consume digital news. Also, in typical Silicon Valley fashion, they think they can save journalism, and ultimately democracy, with the new service.

Although Apple's strategy is risky, it may in fact be the only way forward.

Now we have examined several different aspects of Apple News Plus. The question remains: should publishers participate in the service or not?

7. should you join News Plus?

Judging by the sheer number of subscribers alone, Apple News Plus is an attractive channel that gives you access to a huge audience.

If you do it right, you can use the platform to both monetize your content and drive people to your own platforms.

That's why it can be worth testing out the platform without much manual effort.

However, there are also two points that need to be taken into account in any case:

 Loosing control to big tech companies


The participation of publishers in Apple News+ can be attractive as the platform offers international reach, monetization opportunities and a variety of content. The personalized user experience and integration into the Apple ecosystem are additional benefits. However, publishers should carefully review the contract terms, ensure that the target audience matches and consider the competition on the platform. Technology customization and integration should also be thoroughly evaluated. Ultimately, participation in Apple News+ is a strategic decision that depends on the publisher's individual goals and focus.

As already mentioned, Apple News Plus brings with it some possible risks, but also enormous potential. The publishing industry is currently undergoing massive changes as print revenues continue to decline.

However, Apple News Plus should help publishers reach a wider audience. It's important to remember that Apple is highly motivated to drive their services business as the iPhone business is declining.

As a big brand with a lot of marketing power, Apple News Plus definitely has the potential to be a big success. Especially because readers place a high value on privacy and don't believe in ad tracking.

Apple is indeed digitizing the magazine world, and this is where Apple News Plus could find its true purpose. Even if the user-friendliness of the app is not yet perfect.

Ready to flip the switch? Start by watching our free webinar on "How to make the most of Apple News+" or get in touch with us.

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Kevin Kallenbach
Head of Sales